Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 12:13 UK

Australia father faces rape trial


Australian police have charged a man with a series of sex offences in a case which has drawn comparisons to that of Austrian Josef Fritzl.

Australian media said the man, in his 60s, had been charged with rape and incest allegedly committed against his daughter over a period of 30 years.

Prosecutors will allege DNA tests prove the man is the father of his daughter's four children, reports say.

Fritzl was convicted of raping and imprisoning his daughter for 24 years.

Police in Victoria state, where the man was arrested in February, would not give any further details because of a court suppression order.

Australia's ABC News said the man, who has not been named, has been charged with five counts of rape, five of incest, two of indecent assault and one count of common assault.

The trial will start in November, ABC said.

Birth certificates

Other reports say the man was arrested in February after his daughter spoke to police last year. The police then apparently began their investigations, including the DNA tests.

He is reported to have lived in the Latrobe Valley, east of Melbourne, with his wife, daughter and her children.

The Herald Sun newspaper said all four children had been born in Melbourne hospitals with health problems. One died soon after birth. None of the children had a father listed on their birth certificates, the newspaper said.

The allegations have shocked Australians, coming a day after a report highlighted failings in Victoria's child protection services.

Victoria's Premier John Brumby said he could not comment of the specifics of the case because the suspect was in custody awaiting trial.

"I think it's very important that nothing is said that might prejudice judicial proceedings.

"Any crime of this type is one that is shocking and is personally repulsive to me and other Victorians, and any crime that did occur in our state of this type would be met with the full force of the law," he said.

Government inquiry

His government has ordered an urgent investigation into how much authorities knew of the man before he was arrested.

"I don't know what, or if any, involvement the police, the department [of human services] or other agencies have [had] over the last 30 years," said Victoria's Community Services Minister Lisa Neville.

Austrian Josef Fritzl was convicted in March of imprisoning his daughter for 24 years, repeatedly raping her and fathering seven children with her.

In California, a couple have been charged with kidnapping an 11-year-old and holding her for 18 years while the man had two children with her.

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