Austrian Incest Suspect Charged with Murder | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 13.11.2008
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Austrian Incest Suspect Charged with Murder

Austrian Josef Fritzl, who allegedly imprisoned his own daughter in his cellar and abused her for 24 years, was charged on Thursday with killing one of their seven children.

A man looks at a poster painted by Fritzl's victims at the main square in Amstetten, Austria

A man looks at a poster painted by Fritzl's victims at the main square in Amstetten, Austria

Fritzl, who has admitted most of the allegations, now faces imprisonment for life. In total, the 73-year-old is charged with six crimes.

Prosecutors at the court in Sankt Poelten in Austria said Fritz was responsible for the death of the infant boy born in the dungeon beneath his house in 1996, as he had "neglected to call the necessary help by third parties, although he was aware of the life-threatening situation of the infant."

According to media reports, Fritzl burned the newborn's body in an oven.

Fritz found psychologically deviant

In April this year, Fritzl's daughter Elisabeth, 42, and three of her children were freed from their underground prison which Fritzl had built. Three more children which she bore in the dungeon were living upstairs with the suspect and his wife in the town of Amstetten.

The case made headlines around the world, prompting worries in Austria that it might tarnish the country's image.

In addition to murder, Fritzl also faces charges of enslavement as he abducted and locked up his daughter and made her totally dependent, the prosecution said.

In the trial expected for early next year, Fritzl will also be held responsible for holding his four prisoners captive by threatening them with explosive traps.

Fritzl forced his victims to live in a cramped, damp cellar prison of his house without windows, sunlight, or direct fresh air supply, the prosecutors said.

Although Fritzl was certifiably sane and could be held responsible for his actions, the court-appointed psychiatrist has found him psychologically deviant. The prosecution therefore demanded that he be imprisoned in an institution for mentally anomalous delinquents.

Under Austrian law, criminals convicted of multiple crimes do not serve cumulative sentences, but only the most severe of their several possible punishments.

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