Elisabeth Fritzl Begins Testimony
Posted by shadmia on July 14, 2008
Elisabeth Fritzl, 42, who was imprisoned for 24 years by her father, Josef Fritzl, and bore him 7 children; has been given medical clearance to begin testifying about her ordeal. She has already begun to answer questions and will continue to do so in the coming week. Elisabeth has said that she never wants to see her father ever again…..not even at trial. So in order to accommodate her wishes, all of her testimony is being videotaped so that she will not be forced to confront him in court.
The trial of Josef Fritzl is scheduled to begin later this year in front of one of Austria’s most senior female judges, Andrea Humer, 48, who is considered to be an expert in sex crimes. However, under Austrian law, Elisabeth is being questioned by the investigative judge Christoph Bauer, and not the trial judge Andrea Humer. Neither the contents of the questioning nor the upcoming trial will be open to the public.
The actual questioning of Elisabeth is taking place in two separate rooms of the same building via a video link up. In one room will be Elisabeth and her lawyer Eva Plaz, along with judge Christoph Bauer. In the other room will be state prosecutor Christiane Burkheiser and Josef Fritzl’s lawyer Rudolf Mayer. Defense lawyer Rudolf Mayer is allowed to ask questions, but his client, Josef Fritzl, who is also entitled to attend, has waived his right to be there. Rudolf Mayer, said: “My client will definitely not attend the questioning.” Elisabeth’s two oldest children, who spent their entire lives in the cellar, Kerstin, 19, and Stefan,18, will also be questioned by the court as soon as doctors give their approval. Josef Fritzl’s wife Rosemarie, 68, is also expected to be questioned.
In what may be a surprising development, it turns out that Austrian law, does not allow for cumulative convictions. This means that even if Josef Fritzl is convicted of multiple crimes he will only effectively serve one punishment, for the offense that carries the longest prison sentence.
Fritzl is facing potential charges of manslaughter for the newborn that died, as well as rape, coercion, deprivation of freedom and incest. But prosecutors told The Times that since the baby died in 1997, the manslaughter charges would be “extremely difficult” to prove. Even the rape charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, could be impossible to probe because of a lack of forensic evidence.
What this means is that the only charge that is certain to be proved in court is deprivation of freedom, a crime that can only be punished with ten years in prison under Austrian law. Josef Fritzl could be a free man after only 10 years in prison.
However, here’s the irony in the situation….. Josef Fritzl, who incarcerated his own daughter in a windowless dungeon for 24 years, has admitted that he can’t stand being locked up after only two months in prison. In spite of his fear of being beaten up or killed by other inmates, who routinely target child sex offenders, Josef has demanded his right to 30 minutes exercise outside every day. At night fellow inmates bang on the walls and shout: “Come on out Satan, we want to play.”
Fritzl, who remains held in pretrial detention in St. Poelten, about 50 miles west of Vienna, now has half-hour walks, protected from other inmates by a close guard of prison officers. Fritzl even told prison guards he enjoyed having the sun on his face during his walks.
“Mr Fritzl is accommodated in a cell for two and recently he has made use of his right to go outside for half an hour per day,” the Telegraph quoted prison spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Erich Huber-Guensthofer, as saying.
A source is quoted as saying: “He usually sits there watching television all day, especially news programs about him. He’s terrified that someone will attack him or try to kill him.”
In encouraging news about the Fritzl family; Lisa, 15, one of Elisabeth’s daughters, was sneaked out of the compound where the family has been staying to attend a summer camp. It is reported that the girl enjoyed four carefree days of outdoor fun under an assumed name with 4,000 other young campers. Armin Blutsch, who commands Amstetten’s fire brigade, and Hans-Heinz Lenze, a local official, said camp organizers took it upon themselves to include her after she said it was her “ardent desire.”
Other family members also have ventured, always in disguise, from the Amstetten-Mauer psychiatric clinic where they have been recovering to make day trips, including swimming outings. The clinic however remains under police guard to shut out the paparazzi who have laid siege to the building in an effort to photograph Elisabeth and her children.
“Fortunately, everything is going very well,” said Christoph Herbst, a lawyer representing the victims. He said they were spending some time each day trying to answer the hundreds of letters sent by well-wishers from around the world.
For the complete story of Elisabeth Fritzl and her ordeal at the hands of her father click the following link for a 5-part video presentation of The Josef Fritzl Story.