Josef Fritzl — who kept his daughter Elisabeth captive for 24 years and fathered seven of her children — could soon be released from prison.
Fritzl, 87, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009 in Amstetten, Austria, for incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment, enslavement and for the negligent homicide of one of his infant sons.
However, a three-judge state court panel has now ruled that he should be moved from psychiatric detention to a normal prison on the basis of a new assessment, court spokesman Ferdinand Schuster told the Austria Press Agency on Wednesday.
Prosecutors have appealed the decision. It is not legally binding until it's approved by the High Court in Vienna.
If approved, Fritzl would be eligible for early release in 2023, as, under Austrian law, he has already served 15 years of his sentence — significantly less than the two decades his daughter was held hostage.
Fritzl will remain at the Krems-Stein facility while the appeal is under consideration.
Fritzl no longer poses a danger, assessment says
A previous decision to move Fritzl to a normal prison, based on a psychiatric assessment that he no longer posed a danger, was issued in Krems in September and overturned on appeal.
The higher court sent the case back to Krems in November, arguing that the state court provided insufficient reasoning for its decision.
The Krems court is legally obliged to review regularly whether holding Fritzl in a psychiatric facility remains justified.
Fritzl’s daughter disappeared in 1984 at age 18, re-emerging in 2008 from the dungeon-like basement chamber in the town of Amstetten where her father had kept her captive.
He also kept three of the seven children he shared with her captive in the small room.
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