Josef Fritzl, the Austrian who imprisoned his daughter for 24 years, repeatedly raped her and was the father of her seven children, is to be moved from a maximum-security psychiatric unit to a regular prison and in time to a nursing home.
Now 88 and having changed his name to Josef Mayrhoff, he is reportedly suffering from dementia and was seeking early release after serving 15 years of a life sentence in a high-security unit at Stein prison in northeast Austria.
Fritzl was "close to tears" when a three-person panel ruled he could be moved to a nursing home, said The Guardian. However, the "decision was not yet final and requires a further decision to be made by public prosecutors". This is expected to be a "formality", the paper said, but there are still 14 days for the prosecutors to appeal the decision.
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The ruling comes after a similar appeal by Fritzl in 2022 was dismissed. He will have to continue to "attend regular psychotherapy and undergo psychiatric evaluations" over a 10-year probation period, said Sky News.
Fritzl's abhorrent crimes came to light in 2008 after keeping his daughter Elisabeth captive from the age of 18 in a purpose-built prison he constructed in his cellar at his home in Amstetten. He told his wife Rosemarie her daughter had "left home to join a cult", said The Times. She gave birth to seven of his children, and he was finally caught when one of the children was taken to hospital with a "life-threatening case of kidney failure". His crimes are "among the most notorious cases in 21st-century Europe", the paper said.
Fritzl's lawyer, Astrid Wagner, said she would seek to make a further request next year that he "be released from prison altogether". The court had "come to the conclusion that it is indeed the case that he is no longer dangerous", she said, adding that she would "not be frightened of moving in with him".
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