The story on the front of virtually every newspaper in the UK right now is about this man. 73-year-old Josef Fritzl. He’s currently on trial in Austria accused:Â keeping one of his daughters — Elizabeth — imprisoned in the cellar of their home for 24 years,Â raping her 3000Â times, and fathering seven children with her.
He’s also accused of keeping three of those children locked underground too. The other charges include coercion and deprivation of liberty. And murder by neglect. Prosecutors say one of the children Mr. Fritzl fathered with his daughter in the cellar fell sick and died shortly after birth.
Elizabeth has not appeared in court this week, her testimony has been played in court via video.
For the first nine years that she was held captive, she says he never spoke a word to her — but would assault her three times a week. She was lured there aged just 18, and was never able to stand up straight again as the cellar was only 5ft high.
Once he left her in the dark for ten days while he went on a “family holiday” with the children who lived upstairs, and his wife. The wife still claims she never knew her daughter had been imprisoned downstairs for a quarter of a century.
Her ordeal only ended last year when her daughter Kerstin fell ill, and she persuaded Fritzl to take her to the hospital. This prompted an investigation and Elizabeth and the other children — 18 year old Stefan and 5 year old Felix — were found. They’d never seen daylight before.
When Mr Fritzl arrived in court he refused to show his face to the media. Asked why he said he was, “simply ashamed”. He’s pleaded guilty to incest, coercion and some of the charges of sexual assault. But not guilty of murder or enslavement.
It’s a case that has Europe gripped. It’s being covered by journalists all over the place. And there’s a rumour that he may give one interview at the end of the trial. Call it bad taste, but everyone just wants to know why.
His childrens’ faces have never been seen, and the only picture we’ve seen of Elizabeth is when she was 15 (see below). So despite their health problems (as a result of the incest), it’s hoped they can live some semblance of a normal life, now that they’ve been released from their prison.
As for their father. Let’s hope he’s never released from his.