In a move that has stunned the court, and his lawyer, Josef Fritzl has reversed his plea and admitted enslaving his daughter and murdering one of the seven children he had with her.
He also altered his plea from “partial” to full guilt on a charge of rape. On the first day of the trial in the Austrian town of St Poelten, the 73-year-old had admitted incest but denied murder and enslavement, the two most serious charges. It came after his daughter gave testimony to the court by video. She described her ordeal in an 11-hour statement. Fritzl’s lawyer said it profoundly affected him. “The psychiatric experts say he is certifiably sane, but that he has a a severe personality disorder. My client expects a prison sentence and then commitment to an institution for mentally disordered criminals,” he said. Fritzl had kept his daughter locked in a specially contructed cellar in his home for 24 years. During that time he repeatedly raped her. The murder charge relates to the death from breathing difficulties of a newborn baby boy. Fritzl said he could not explain why he did not take him to hospital. A sentence is expected to be passed on Thursday afternoon.