Josef Fritzl could be convicted of murder based on son's evidence

Last updated at 17:09 10 May 2008

Josef Fritzl

Josef Fritzl admits he is insane

Josef Fritzl could be convicted of murdering his own baby on the evidence of the son he held captive for all his 18 years.

Fritzl, 73, locked up his daughter Elisabeth in 1984 when she was 18 and repeatedly raped her. She bore him seven children.

Her son Stefan Fritzl witnessed the birth 12 years ago of a twin, Michael, who died after only three days in the dungeon. Josef Fritzl burned the body in a furnace.

According to reports, prosecution spokesman Dr Gerhard Sedlacek said: "We want to question the mother and the children in the cellar at that time.

"The key question is whether the child would have survived with proper medical attention.

"If Fritzl knew his daughter was about to give birth and did not help her then he'll be charged with murder on the grounds of negligence.

"That carries a life sentence - and in Austria, life means life."

Fritzl has told his lawyer Rudolph Mayer he knew Elisabeth was going into labour. But he left her alone with only medical manuals to prepare her for her terrifying ordeal.

He admits disposing of the body, but claims the child was already dead.

Elisabeth Fritzl

Traumatic life: Elisabeth Fritzl

Stefan's 19-year-old sister sister Kerstin, who was also imprisoned in the dungeon, will be questioned if she ever recovers from her ordeal. She remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Prosecutor Christiane Burkheiser outlined the case against the former electrician who imprisoned Elisabeth, 42, in the cellar beneath his home at Amstetten.

He is accused of seven charges of rape leading to pregnancy, kidnap, assault and neglect of his children. The offences carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Fritzl, who remained silent throughout the 15-minute hearing, was remanded in custody for a month. He has admitted: "I know that I'm insane."

Felix Fritzl is making an amazing recovery

Meanwhile, Felix Fritzl is making an amazing recovery - aided by the daily miracle of the breaking dawn.

The five-year-old, who spent his entire life caged underground by his father and grandfather Josef Fritzl, has stopped communicating by grunts and is walking normally.

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The entrance to the basement dungeon where Elizabeth and the children were held

A source told the Daily Mirror: "The grunts and growls it was suggested he and his brother Stefan used appear only to have been the excitement of their release."

Felix is also entrancing doctors with his ready wit and enthusiasm for everything new in his transformed life.

But the most heart-warming feature of his freedom is something the rest of the world takes for granted. Before he was released from the windowless dungeon two weeks ago, he had never seen daylight.

Now each morning, wearing special protective goggles, he beams a radiant smile of joy that once again the darkness that has haunted him all his life has gone away.

As Felix recovers with his mother Elisabeth and his five siblings, doctors say they are watching the birth of a new family.

Felix, his sister Kerstin, 19, and Stefan, 18, lived all their lives in the cellar never knowing that brother and sisters Alex, 12, Monika, 14, and Lisa, 16, lived upstairs with Fritzl and wife Rosemarie.

Under the eye of Elisabeth and Rosemarie, 69, they are now all bonding well.

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