I want to watch a Robbie Williams concert
“I want to watch a Robbie Williams concert...A new life is starting for all of us – let us be happy.”
Kerstin Fritzl’s first words on awaking in hospital for the first time outside of her prison
“Little Felix, pressing his nose to the window, being in this car for the first time in his little life; watching all the lights, seeing moonlight for the first time. Gluing his little nose, till it’s white, to the window shield of the car, just looking, staring – wide eyes, saying nothing. That was his first look at the normal life.”
Journalist Mark Perry’s remembering Felix Fritzl’s first moments outside
FREEDOM & THE PRESS
From the point of view of the criminal police, the missing person case of Elisabeth Fritzl was solved. But what Fritzl had done as a father to his family went beyond criminal law.
On 27 April 2008, Colonel Franz Polzer, the head of Lower Austria’s Criminal Police, holds an impromptu press conference. He states that Josef Fritzl has kept his daughter in his cellar for 24 years and that she has borne him several children. The world’s press goes wild.
World's Press Heas to Amstetten
Comments Fritzl made to his lawyer are leaked to a local magazine;
“...I must have been crazy because I did something like this.”
Police announce DNA test results confirming Fritzl is the father of Elisabeth’s children.
Within two days, the small Austrian town of Amstetten floods with around 800 camera crews and journalists, accompanied by their interpreters, fixers, TV vans and satellite dishes;
“In Austria, there was a huge backlash against the international coverage, and part of it was justified, because especially tabloids from the English-speaking world were very intrusive, because they were hungry, they were demanding images from the family. They were demanding details of the ordeal, and the family refused, Elisabeth refused, and she refuses to this very day to be photographed, to speak to anyone. She doesn’t want her story told by herself or the family. She doesn’t want them to be in the spotlight.”
Bojan Panchevski, European Correspondent
Dr Heidi Kastner gives a psychiatric evaluation of the 73-year-old Fritzl to see if he’s fit to stand trial. She describes him as emotionally deficient. But she states to one reporter;
“Mr Fritzl is as sane as you and I.”
On the 16 March 2009, Josef Fritzl is brought to trial at Sankt Polten, the capital of Lower Austria.
He’s charged with rape, enslavement, incest and the murder of one of the children that he had conceived with Elisabeth.
At first Fritzl pleads not guilty to murder.
Dr Heidi Kastner notes Fritzl’s initial calmness at the trial’s opening;
“He was polite. He answered the questions. He was sitting there like a stone.”
Everything changes when Elisabeth’s video testimony is played.
Perhaps for the first time, Fritzl cannot deceive himself:
“...he had to listen to her, he couldn’t close his ears...What she was saying was quite another story than he was telling. And she was telling about how horrible the time was when it had been, and how brutal he had been... And she did not at all feel like a partner. She didn’t see that as a partnership. She saw it as a crime.”
Dr Heidi Kastner
“She decided to show up as a final act of defiance. She just wanted to see him there in the dock, being put on trial, shamed, his crimes exposed for everyone to see, for the first time in her life. She was over forty years old at the time. She had been abused by him for the whole of her life basically, ever since her early childhood. Her whole family had been abused by him. He was a tyrant. He kind of ruled over her fate for the whole of her life, and this was one final moment where she appears as a free, independent woman, and he was on trial.”
Bojan Panchevski, European Correspondent
Fritzl is exposed before the world. For the intensely private Fritzl, used to being in control, it is unbearable. He resorts to hiding his face behind his defence folders. Some believe his change of plea isn’t because he finally understands the pain he’s caused, but to stop this painful process.
After a four day trial Fritzl is found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment for murder by neglect, 20 years for enslavement, 15 years for rape, ten years for deprivation of liberty, five years for coercion and one year for incest.
Before the verdict is announced, Fritzl makes a rare expression of remorse;
“I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart...Unfortunately, I can’t change anything now.”