Transfer Decision for 'Monster of Amstetten' Overturned

Lower court originally said Fritzl could be moved to regular prison
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2024 9:25 AM CST
Updated Mar 12, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
Judges Say Fritzl Can Be Moved to Regular Prison
Josef Fritzl, center, is escorted to the fourth day of his trial in the provincial courthouse in St. Poelten, Austria, Thursday, March 19, 2009.   (Robert Jaeger/Pool Photo via AP, file)
UPDATE Mar 12, 2024 12:30 AM CDT

A Vienna court has overturned a lower court's ruling that Josef Fritzl, the so-called "monster of Amstetten," could be moved from a special psychiatric unit to a regular prison, sending the case back to the lower court. Prosecutors had appealed the January decision, the Guardian reports. "Contrary to the [assessment by the] court of first instance, the Vienna higher provincial court came to the conclusion that the facts necessary for such a conditional release had not yet fully been clarified," the Vienna court said, ordering the lower court to look at more evidence before issuing another ruling on Fritzl's application to be moved, which the Guardian says is a precursor to an eventual request that he be released. A new court hearing is scheduled for next month.

Jan 25, 2024 9:25 AM CST

A request to release Josef Fritzl early on the grounds of old age and ill health was rejected at a hearing Thursday, but a lawyer for the man known as the "monster of Amstetten" still considers it a success. A three-judge panel at a regional court in Austria decided that the 88-year-old inmate could be moved from a secure psychiatric prison unit to a regular prison, the Guardian reports. Fritzl—who kept his daughter Elisabeth captive in a basement for 24 years and raped her thousands of times—was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for crimes including incest, rape, enslavement, and the murder by neglect of one of the seven children he fathered with his daughter.

The panel's decision, which could still be appealed by prosecutors, could pave the way for Fritzl's release to a nursing home. It states that he will have to undergo psychotherapy and regular psychiatric examinations during a 10-year probation. Astrid Wagner, Fritzl's lawyer, said the "court has come to the conclusion that it is indeed the case that he is no longer dangerous," the AP reports. "We were successful. It was a long hearing," she said. "He said once again how he regrets what he did. He was actually close to tears."

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Wagner said Fritzl told the judges "that he feels incredibly sorry for these people and that he wishes that he could undo it," Reuters reports. She said her client has advanced dementia but was still able to follow proceedings. Wagner said she plans to submit another request to release Fritzl on parole next year. Conditions in regular prison are considered better than those in the secure unit, but Wagner said Fritzl's daily life wouldn't change much. "Prison is prison," she said. (More Josef Fritzl stories.)

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