8 Mar 2009

Fritzl will admit most charges - lawyer

4:22 pm on 8 March 2009

Josef Fritzl, the Austrian accused of sexually abusing his own daughter over 24 years, will plead guilty to most of the charges he faces, his lawyer says.

Rudolf Mayer said Mr Fritzl would admit to deprivation of liberty, rape, incest and coercion - and expects to spend the rest of his life in jail. But he said Mr Fritzl would deny the charge that he killed one of the seven children he fathered with his daughter.

The 73-year-old is due to go on trial on 16 March.

Investigators say Mr Fritzl has already confessed to raping his daughter Elisabeth, fathering seven children by her while she was imprisoned in the cellar of the family home.

However, he denies murdering one of those children, who died shortly after birth and whose body he incinerated.

Mr Mayer told the Austrian news agency APA his client was a deeply disturbed character. Referring to newspaper headlines, he denied Mr Fritzl was a "sex monster" and said he loved his daughter "in his own way".

Of the six surviving children Mr Fritzl had with Elisabeth, three were raised in the family home. The others were confined to the cellar for their whole lives, not seeing the light of day until they were discovered and released by police in April 2008.

The case first came to light after 19-year-old Kerstin, one of the children fathered by Mr Fritzl and kept underground, became seriously ill and was taken to hospital.

A psychiatrist's report last autumn judged that he was mentally fit to stand trial.