Daughter Confronts Father in Video Testimony in Austria Incest Trial | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 17.03.2009
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Daughter Confronts Father in Video Testimony in Austria Incest Trial

The murder and imprisonment trial of Josef Fritzl entered its second day Tuesday, with the defendant responding to video testimony by the daughter he allegedly locked up and raped over 24 years.

Josef Fritzl behind a blue binder with two guards

Fritzl's lawyer said the defendant hid his face because he was "ashamed"

Fritzl was expected to take the stand Tuesday, March 17, as the court continued to hear the 11-hour video testimony by Fritzl's daughter, Elisabeth. But his lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, told AFP news agency that his client had little to say.

"He's already said everything," Mayer said as he arrived at the courthouse. He would not comment on Monday's proceedings. Fritzl was questioned at the start of the trial after the first excerpts of Elisabeth's testimony were shown.

Court spokesman Franz Cutka said Elisabeth's statements, which were videotaped to spare her an appearance in court, were expected to be shown in their entirety during the trial.

He said authorities had also recorded just under an hour of further testimony by one of her brothers, Harald. No other family members agreed to testify.

Cutka said final pleas "could be made on Thursday morning and that means we could expect to have a verdict on Thursday afternoon."

Expert opinions

Protestors with a sign for more child protection

Protestors in front of the court building demand more child protection

Some 300 journalists have traveled to the northeastern Austrian town of Sankt Poelten to cover the trial. But it is being held behind closed doors to protect the victims' identities.

Austrian broadcaster ORF reported that expert opinions would play a significant role in the trial. The court is to hear the findings of psychiatric specialist Adelheid Kastner, as well as from experts in neonatology, electro mechanics and ventilation technology, ORF said.

"Face of evil"

Fritzl pleaded guilty on Monday to incest, rape and sequestration. But the 73-year-old denied murder and enslavement charges. He depicted himself in court as a victim of family neglect during his own childhood.

The prosecution alleges that Fritzl murdered his own baby in 1996 by failing to provide it with appropriate medical care. Fritzl testified that the baby was stillborn and that he burnt the body. He faces life in prison if convicted of the charge.

His lawyer, Mayer, argued that the retired Austrian engineer had sought a second family to the one he had with his wife Rosemarie.

But Austria's press has described him as the embodiment of evil.

"This is the face of evil," read the headline of the daily Kleine Zeitung, alongside a picture of Fritzl hiding his face behind a blue document folder as he arrived at the courthouse for the trial's opening.

"A coward till the end," said the tabloid Kronen Zeitung, while the Kurier said: "Fritzl only feels sorry for himself."

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