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Fritzl admits all charges
Published on 19 Mar. 2009 12:18 AM IST
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Fritzl said he hoped his admission of guilt would help the victims. Josef Fritzl, the Austrian accused of imprisoning his daughter and fathering seven children with her, has changed his pleas to guilty on all charges. Fritzl said video testimony from his daughter, played in court on Tuesday, made him change his mind. Josef Fritzl locked up his daughter for 24 years. The charges include rape, incest, murder and enslavement. A court doctor has recommended that the 73-year-old be sent to a psychiatric facility for treatment. At the start of his trial on Monday, Fritzl denied the charges of enslavement and murdering one of the children soon after its birth. His surprise turnabout also altered his plea from "partial" to guilty on the charge of rape. Fritzl's lawyer said watching his daughter's testimony had profoundly affected him, "destroying" his emotions. Proceedings have ended for the day. A verdict and sentencing is expected on Thursday. Wearing a grey suit and a blue shirt, Fritzl did not hide his face on Wednesday, as he had done for the past two days, when he was led into the courtroom in St Poelten, west of Vienna. As proceedings began, the judge asked Fritzl how he felt after watching the videotaped testimony of his daughter. In a low voice he said: "I plead guilty." "Your daughter told you the baby was suffering from breathing problems," the judge said. "You had time to get first aid." He then said he was "sorry". The court later heard psychiatrist Dr Adelheid Kastner say there was a danger Fritzl would repeat his behaviour if he was left untreated. She recommended that he be sent to a psychiatric facility. She said Fritzl had an overwhelming need to dominate and control, which she said stemmed from his childhood. She said he was an unwanted, unloved child, intelligent, who had grown up determined to have somebody who belonged to him alone. He was emotionally deficient but that he knew what he was doing was wrong, she added. The court viewed the testimony from Fritzl's daughter on Tuesday. Austrian media reports said his daughter Elisabeth was in a private viewing chamber in the courthouse at the time. However, officials refused to confirm this, saying only that a number of unnamed people had been there. Fritzl lured his 18-year-old daughter into a cellar with windowless, soundproofed chambers beneath their house in Amstetten in 1984. He imprisoned her there and raped her repeatedly over a number of years. The daughter and three of the children fathered by Fritzl were kept captive in the cellar until the case came to light in April last year, when one of the children became seriously ill and was taken to hospital. He was accused of murdering one of newborn twin boys his daughter gave birth to in 1996, having failed to arrange medical care for the ailing infant.

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