Austrian dungeon father admit to incest, confinement (Lead)

April 28th, 2008 - 6:55 pm ICT by admin  

Vienna, April 28 (DPA) A 73-year-old Austrian admitted Monday to having fathered seven children with his daughter whom he kept imprisoned in a dungeon for 24 years. Josef Fritzl, a retired electrical engineer from Amstetten in eastern Austria, had “started” to admit to having locked his daughter, Elisabeth, 42, in the basement in August 1984, the Austrian Press Agency said.

“He has started to confess,” a police official was quoted as saying, but added that it was too early to speak of a “full confession.”

Elisabeth had been sexually abused by her father since the age of 11, she said in a statement released by police.

During her captivity, she gave birth to seven children, results of continued sexual abuse by her father.

One infant died shortly after its birth.

After Josef’s arrest Sunday, police are investigating the dungeon hidden in the basement of his house where Elisabeth, and three of her six surviving children had been imprisoned.

According to first reports, the dungeon rooms were small, with a maximum height of 1.7 metres and equipped with sleeping cots as well as cooking and washing facilities.

It also included a padded cell, a local official said.

Josef had provided the police with the codes for the dungeon’s electronic locks Sunday.

Three of the children, aged between 5 and 19, were imprisoned with her for all of their lives. The other three lived with their “grandparents” and attended local schools.

Josef had told authorities that his daughter, whom he reported missing after her “disappearance,” had deposited the infants at his doorstep over the course of several years.

Authorities expect the results of DNA testing aimed at verifying the suspicions of incest later Monday. First results were corroborating Elisabeth’s story.

She and five of her children are being looked after by doctors and therapists.

One daughter, Kerstin, 19, who is believed to suffer from a rare disease, remains in intensive care at the local hospital.

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