Josef Fritzl Could Be Freed As He Undergoes Psychiatric Tests
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Josef Fritzl could be released from prison early after undergoing a series of psychiatric tests.
The 86-year-old was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 after being convicted of the systematic abuse of his daughter Elisabeth, who was locked away in a soundproofed room of his home in Austria for 24 years.
Over the course of that time, Fritzl raped her thousands of times, fathering seven children, one of who died.
The abuse started shortly after Elisabeth's 18th birthday and three of the children remained in the basement with her while the other three were brought up in the family house to live with him.
However, earlier this year, the Regional Court of Krems in Lower Austria decided that Fritzl would be moved from a special unit of the Krems-Stein prison to the standard prison system.
If it goes through, this would mean that he would be up for early release after having served just 15 years of his life sentence.
This would be nine years less than his daughter spent locked up in his house.
However, the public prosecutor's office has since opposed to this plan and immediately launched an appeal to see it blocked.
The Higher Regional Court has also taken over the case and has ordered an expert to examine Fritzl to determine whether or not he is of sound body and mind.
If the expert decides that he is not mentally stable, he will remain in the current prison and will not be eligible to apply for early release in 2024.
A decision on the case is expected in January 2022.
Fritzl was described as someone who 'blended in well' and 'kept to himself', which is why things only came to light when one of Elisabeth's children fell into a coma and was taken to hospital for treatment.
When doctors struggled to work out what was wrong with the child, they put out a public appeal for Elisabeth to come forward.
British journalist Mark Perry, who was the first to break the story of the 'House of Horrors;, told WHO: "She was in the cellar watching TV and she begged Fritzl to let her and her other children out. That's when he let her out."
Up until then, Fritzl's wife Rosemarie was told that Elisabeth had left home years before and had joined a cult, only to dump three of her kids of their doorstep. Little did she know that those three children were fathered by her husband and daughter.
Perry spoke to Fritzl's lawyer Walter Anzböck and Fritzl reportedly said: "It's normal to have a family in the cellar." No, no it isn't.
The journalist added: "He doesn't believe he's done anything wrong at all. He thinks it's a failure of justice and that he's been wrongly locked up."
Earlier this year, a film based on the horrifying crimes committed by Fritzl was released on Amazon Prime.
The movie, which was directed by Elisabeth Röhm, tells the story of Sara (played by Stefanie Scott) who is held captive by her father, Don (Judd Nelson) in the wake of her 18th birthday.
Although Girl in the Basement comes from the notorious case it's worth pointing out that the names and details have been changed to protect real life victims and people involved.