Is he a monster or a human being?That is the question Austrian lawyers will continue to debate today on day two of the trial of Josef Fritzl. He is accused of imprisoning his daughter in a cellar for 24 years, repeatedly raping her, fathering seven of her children and murdering one of them through neglect. The court will today hear more pre-recorded evidence from Fritzl’s daughter, Elisabeth. Due to the harrowing nature of the charges, proceedings are being held behind closed doors. It was behind locked doors leading from the family home in the town of Amstetten that Fritzl allegedly enslaved Elisabeth from the age of 18. Three of their children remained there, while three moved in with Fritzl and his wife upstairs. Another survived just two days. Prosecutors say that by failing to get the baby treated, Fritzl is guilty of murder by neglect. Banned by the court, a detail-hungry press and public have been feeding on what information they can gather. One forensic psychologist told cameras after a press conference that he thought the blue folder Fritzl used to hide his face acts as a wall between the accused and his alleged crimes and the outside world. Fritzl admits incest and forced imprisonment, partially admits rape but denies murder and enslavement. He told the court that he had a “troubled childhood” and lacked a meaningful relationship with his mother. Fritzl’s defence lawyer has asked the jury to be objective and see him “as a human being” and not a monster. A verdict is expected this week.
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