Elizabeth Fritzl has agreed to testify against her father, under strict conditions.
Elizabeth Fritzl is now set to give evidence against her father, according to an article in yesterday’s Observer.
Elizabeth, 42, will not have to see her father during questioning, and he has waived his right to question her via video link. She had earlier refused to testify when it was suggested that he would be able to speak to her remotely from his cell in St Polten prison.
She will give her evidence in a secret location, and it will be videotaped to show to the court. Psychologists will also be present to ensure that the questioning is not too distressing, and they will be able to insist on breaks. The questioning is expected to take several days or weeks.
In a setup usually reserved for child victims of sex abuse, Elizabeth will be questioned only by the trial judge Andrea Hummer, while in a room next door state prosecutor Christiane Burkheiser and Fritzl’s lawyer Rudolf Meyer will watch via video link. They will both be able to pose questions to Elisabeth, but only via Judge Hummer.
Elizabeth’s two eldest children, Kerstin (19) and Stefan (18) will also be questioned at the end of the month, once Kerstin has fully recovered from her illness. It was Kerstin’s illness and coma that first brought the family tragedy to light, when she was taken to hospital by her father/grandfather Josef.
The Fritzl family (other than Josef) are still currently housed in a flat in the grounds of a psychiatric hospital near Amstetten, but staff have revealed that they have occasionally been able to smuggle the children out to introduce them to aspects of a normal life, such as visits to the zoo. The ‘outside’ children, who were brought up in the house above the cellar, have also been able to get out from time to time, for instance to a youth camp run by the fire brigade.
For the time being, the cellar children are said to be ‘slow’, compared with the outside children, as they have had very little stimulus throughout their lives. They are also said to be easily distracted by everyday objects like moving clouds or singing birds – hardly surprising after a life underground in virtual silence.
Josef Fritzl is currently charged with kidnapping and rape, but these carry a sentence of only 10-15 years in Austria, which would hardly satisfy the public’s need to see justice done in this case. Prosectors are currently investigating whether he can be charged with murder for failing to help his dying child – the twin of Felix, aged 5 – whose body he disposed of in an incinerator after death. If found guilty, this would enable the authorities to sentence him to life imprisonment.