Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Austria’s ‘incest’ trial to start on March 16

SEX SLAVE The trial of Joseph Fritzl, the man accused of keeping his daughter in a cellar for decades, is expected to last for a week. No date has been set for the verdict

AFP , VIENNA

The trial of Joseph Fritzl, accused of holding his daughter captive as a sex slave over 24 years during which she bore seven of his children, will begin on March 16, an Austrian court said on Thursday.

The trial will last about a week but no date has yet been set for the verdict, said Franz Cutka, a spokesman for St Poelten court in the north of the country said.

The beginning of proceedings will be open to the public and media but later access will depend on further developments in the case, Cutka said.

Days after the case came to light in late April, Fritzl confessed to holding his daughter Elisabeth in a cellar for 24 years and fathering seven children with her.

However, he has denied any responsibility in the death of one of the babies shortly after birth. He later burnt the body in a wood-fired boiler in the cellar.

Three of the children were brought up by Fritzl and his wife, but the other three children spent their entire lives in the cellar with their mother, never seeing daylight until they were released last April.

Fritzl, 73, who is being held at St Poelten prison, has been charged with murder, rape, sequestration, incest, grievous assault and slavery. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

His lawyer has said that Fritzl may plead diminished responsibility.

Elisabeth’s lawyer said she and her six children had moved into a new home after leaving the clinic where they had been staying since April.

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