|DNA proves Austrian man fathered imprisoned daughter's children|
|Wednesday, 30 April 2008|
HTML clipboardDNA tests on Tuesday confirmed that Josef Fritzl is the father of his daughter's six surviving children born while she was a prisoner in a cellar for 24 years, investigators said, reports internet.
The 73-year-old Fritzl appeared in court to be remanded in custody while doctors shielded the Elisabeth Fritzl and her surviving children in isolation from a world they barely know.
"The DNA tests provided decisive evidence that the six children that Elisabeth gave birth to have the same father," chief investigator Franz Polzer told a press conference.
"We're talking about Josef Fritzl, 73," he added. Elisabeth Fritzl, now 42, and her children, are sequestered "in a treatment container that can be locked from the inside" to shield them from the outside world, child and youth pyschologist Paulus Hochgatterer told Austrian television.
One of the seven children she bore during her 24 years in captivity died shortly after birth. Fritzl has admitted that he burned the body, police said. Three of the surviving children had never left the three cramped underground rooms where they were held and had never seen natural daylight.
Three other children were legally adopted by Fritzl and lived with him and his wife Rosemarie upstairs in the family home, totally unaware of their siblings imprisoned in the cellar below. The woman and children face several weeks of treatment, Hans-Heinz Lenze, head of social services in Amstetten, told a news conference.
Psychologists were also helping Elisabeth's adult brothers and sisters and others involved in the family, Lenze said. "Only very gradually are they being exposed to the outside world," Hochgatterer said, adding that "given the circumstances, they're actually doing quite well."
The two sets of children, who had been completely unaware of each others' existence, were tentatively beginning to get to know one another, even if two of the three who had spent all their lives underground "have a way of communicating that is anything but normal," said Berthold Kepplinger, director of the psychiatric clinic in Amstetten-Mauer.
Austrian Justice Minister Maria Berger warned media that they could be fined up to 20,000 euros (31,000 dollars) for publishing photos of the victims or unnecessary details of their private lives. "It's important that the victims are now left in peace," Berger told a news conference.
The father was remanded in custody when he made a first appearance before a judge on Tuesday. Fritzl has also expressed his regret to the town chief in Amstetten. "He looked at me with a face full of remorse and said: 'I'm very sorry. I regret this very much for my family," said Lenze, who met Fritzl while he was in police custody at the weekend.
Fritzl now faces 15 years in jail if convicted of rape and sequestration. Doctors would determine when police would be allowed to question Elisabeth Fritzl and the children, but that was unlikely to be for several days, Lenze said. Authorities were looking for a special school for the children and they have proposed changing the names of Elisabeth, her children and her adult brothers and sisters, Lenze said.
The case has shocked Austria, coming only two years after a similar case of sequestration, that of Natascha Kampusch, hit the headlines. Kampusch, now 20, was kidnapped and imprisoned from the age of 10 for over eight years by Wolfgang Priklopil until she managed to escape in August 2006.
The Vienna-based psychiatrist who looked after Kampusch, Max Friedrich, said the rehabilitation of the Fritzls would be long and complex. "You can't lose hope that they'll one day be able to lead autonomous lives, but it'll take years, and scars will remain," for all the children. "Their world has fallen apart," Friedrich told AFP.
The youngest child, five-year-old, seems most able to adapt to his new life and was excited about being able to ride in a car, his carers said. Fritzl's wife, 69-year-old Rosemarie, was also in deep shock at the discovery of her husband's horrific double life. Chief police investigator Polzer said there was no sign that Fritzl's wife, who also had seven children with him, knew of secret cellar.
"It would go against all logic that a mother of seven children would help the father of those children to look after seven more children whom he had fathered with his own daughter," Polzer said.
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