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Austrian incest-rapist Fritzl to transfer to regular prison, lawyer says

FILE PHOTO: Defendant Fritzl is pictured during proceedings the last day of his trial at the court of law in Sankt Poelten

VIENNA (Reuters) -An Austrian court on Thursday ordered the conditional transfer of 88-year-old incestuous rapist Josef Fritzl to a regular prison from a prison psychiatric unit, his lawyer told reporters after the hearing.

Fritzl, who has now changed his name to one not made public, raped his daughter as he held her captive for 24 years, fathering her seven children.

He has been in a prison for "mentally abnormal" inmates since his conviction in 2009 for incest, rape, enslavement, coercion and the murder, by neglect, of his newborn son in a dungeon he secretly built under his house.

"He was a bit close to tears (as he) said once again that what he did was a terrible thing, and that he feels incredibly sorry for these people and that he wishes that he could undo it," his lawyer Astrid Wagner said, describing the hearing in the town of Krems an der Donau near Vienna.

Fritzl, 88, is suffering from advancing dementia that causes absent moments but he was able to follow the proceedings, she said. The hearing followed a psychiatric assessment that he no longer posed a threat of re-offending, Austrian media reported.

From regular prison he can request to be released from prison altogether. Wagner said she planned to submit such a request next year.

"His everyday life will remain similar (in regular prison). Prison is prison," she said, adding that he would continue to receive psychotherapy.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy;Editing by Alison Williams and Andrew Cawthorne)