Trial of Austrian incest father Josef Fritzl opens

March 16th, 2009 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

St Poelten (Austria), March 16 (DPA) The trial of Josef Fritzl, the father who achieved worldwide notoriety in 2008 on allegations of incest, began Monday in the Austrian town of St Poelten.
At 9:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) Fritzl, shielding his face from the cameras with a blue binder, was led into the room by two police officers. He remained silent while an Austrian journalist bombarded the 78-year-old with questions.

Fritzl is accused of having kept his daughter, Elizabeth, locked in the cellar of his house in Amstetten for 24 years, where he is said to have raped her several thousand times.

The daughter gave birth to seven children in the windowless cellar, six of whom survived.

Fritzl is accused of repeated rape, incest, false imprisonment and enslavement.

The prosecution has also broadened the case to include murder through negligence, with regard to a baby that died in the cellar without being granted medical assistance.

Fritzl stood in the courtroom for five minutes, unresponsive to journalist’s questions and a cameraman kneeling in front of him.

Defence lawyer Rudolf Mayer had already taken his position on the bench. He had previously announced that Fritzl would give a partial confession.

If convicted of murder, Fritzl faces a lifelong prison sentence.

The trial has drawn 200 journalists from around the world to the Austrian town of St. Poelten.

The public will be excluded from the majority of the trial, to grant protection to the victims.

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