'Monster' who fathered his daughter's 7 children in captivity smirks during prison move in push for freedom

Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who locked his daughter in a basement for 24 years and fathered seven of her children, will move out of a psychiatric ward to regular prison.

'Monster' who fathered his daughter's 7 children in captivity smirks during prison move in push for freedom

Josef Fritzl, an Austrian man who held his daughter captive in his basement as a sex slave for 24 years, fathering seven of her children, was seen smirking Thursday after a court ruled that he could be transferred from a psychiatric ward to a regular prison.

Fritzl's move to a regular prison reportedly marks the first step of his parole bid. Austrian law allows prisoners sentenced to life in prison to apply for parole after serving 15 years, which Fritzl will mark in March, since he was initially sentenced in 2009.

"In summary, the court has come to the conclusion that it is indeed the case that he is no longer dangerous," Fritzl's lawyer Astrid Wagner told The Associated Press.

Fritzl reportedly has dementia, and a psychiatric evaluation suggested that he does not pose any future threats to the public. Thursday's court decision overturned a 2022 ruling rejecting Fritzl's request to be moved to a regular prison. 

Dubbed the "monster of Amstetten," Fritzl kidnapped his own 18-year-old daughter, Elisabeth, in 1984 and kept her locked in a sound-proof basement in their Amstetten home, where he fathered seven of her children over more than two decades.

She was found in 2008 after 24 years of captivity and brutal abuse in the windowless basement. Elisabeth's mother was apparently oblivious to her daughter's captivity in her own home, according to Austrian authorities.

When asked about her whereabouts, Fritzl would reportedly say she had run away. In 2008, authorities charged Fritzl with incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment, enslavement and negligent homicide after he had killed one of the sons he had fathered with his captive daughter soon after the baby was born.

The court agreed to move Fritzl into a regular prison upon the condition that he undergo psychotherapy and psychiatric evaluations over a 10-year probation period, the Austria Press Agency reported.

Fritzl's attorney said his client was "close to tears" during Thursday's hearing. 

"He said he is unbelievably sorry for his victims, he would love to undo everything he did," Wagner said.

In a 2009 statement, the St. Poelten provincial prosecutors’ office said that Fritzl had "forced Elisabeth into slave-like conditions . . . shut her away in the cellar and made her totally dependent on him, forcing her into sexual acts and treating her as if she was his own property," according to Reuters.

Prosecutors also alleged that Fritzl had threatened to kill Elisabeth and gas their children to death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.