Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:39 UK

Fritzl confesses to 'addiction'

Rudolf Mayer, Josef Fritzl's lawyer, speaks to the media in front of St Poelten prison (5.05.08)
Rudolf Mayer says his client should have psychiatric tests

Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who has admitted holding his daughter captive for 24 years, has said he was driven by an addiction that "got out of control".

He also said that he locked his daughter Elisabeth in a cellar dungeon to protect her from the outside world.

Mr Fritzl made the statement to his lawyer Rudolf Mayer, which was passed on to the Austrian magazine News.

Mr Fritzl said he tried to care for Elisabeth and her children by taking them flowers, toys and books.

He fathered seven children with his daughter - one of whom died when very young, three of whom were kept imprisoned in his cellar, and three others who went on to live with Mr Fritzl as his adopted or fostered children.

Elisabeth has told police that her father started sexually abusing her when she was 11.

In conversations with his lawyer Mr Fritzl admitted repeatedly raping Elisabeth, now 42, on visits to the cellar. "I knew Elisabeth didn't want me to do what I did to her. I knew that I was hurting her. It was like an addiction... In reality, I wanted children with her."

Josef Fritzl
I brought... books and toys for the children, and I watched adventure videos with them while Elisabeth was cooking our favourite dish
Josef Fritzl, via his lawyer

"I knew the whole time that what I was doing was not right, that I must be mad for doing such a thing. But despite this, at the same time it became completely matter-of-fact for me that I had a second life, which I led in the cellar of my house."

He insisted he still loved his wife, Rosemarie, with whom he has seven children.

"Since I can remember, it was my innermost wish to have lots of children - and I considered Rosemarie to be the suitable mother," he said. "The fact is I loved her and I still love her."

He said that he had locked up his daughter in 1984 as a way of controlling her behaviour after "she broke all the rules" following the onset of puberty.

"I needed to create a place in which I could at some point keep her away from the outside world, by force if necessary," he said.

Earlier the Oesterreich newspaper also reported that Mr Fritzl had sought to defend his actions, in comments relayed by his lawyer.

Mr Fritzl reportedly criticised media coverage of his case as "totally one-sided", and added that he was "not a monster".

"When I went into the bunker, I brought flowers for my daughter, and books and toys for the children, and I watched adventure videos with them while Elisabeth was cooking our favourite dish," News magazine quoted him as saying.

"And then we all sat around the table and ate together."

He also repeated his claim that he had installed a timer-device on the doors of the dungeon so that if anything happened to him, they would open after a certain length of time.

"Had I died, Elisabeth and the children would have been set free," he said.

Elisabeth and five of her children are now in care with the Austrian authorities, who are protecting their privacy at a psychiatric clinic.

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