Fritzl sentenced to lifelong imprisonment for murder (Second Lead)

March 19th, 2009 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

St Poelten (Austria), March 19 (DPA) Josef Fritzl was found guilty Thursday of murder through neglect and sentenced to lifelong imprisonment, for the death of a baby he fathered with his daughter Elisabeth, in a windowless dungeon below his house.
The 73-year-old Austrian was also found guilty on all other counts of slavery, rape, incest and false imprisonment. The verdict was reached unanimously by an eight-member jury on the fourth day of the trial.

Under Austrian law, all sentences will run concurrently. The court has ordered for Fritzl to be committed to an institution for mentally abnormal offenders.

Fritzl gained worldwide notoriety in 2008 when his daughter Elisabeth and three of her children emerged from captivity in a windowless dungeon below Fritzl’s home in the Austrian town of Amstetten.

In 1984, Fritzl had lured his then 18-year-old daughter into the cellar and, in the years that followed, raped her about 3,000 times. He fathered seven children with her, of whom six survived.

Elisabeth’s son Michael was born with respiratory problems in 1996, and lived for just 66 hours after Elisabeth’s pleas for medical aid went unanswered.

Speaking on behalf of Fritzl’s daughter Elisabeth, victim lawyer Eva Plaz had supported the murder charge in court.

“Michael died in agony and my client had to watch him in the process for several days,” Plaz told the jury.

“The defendant made himself the master of life and death,” Elisabeth’s lawyer said, adding, “For this, he must be punished”.

Addressing the jury before they considered their verdict, Fritzl had said he was sorry.

“I regret with my whole heart what I did to my family. I can unfortunately not make it better again. I can only seek to reduce the damage if possible,” the 73-year-old told the court.

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