Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 13:24 UK

Judge prolongs Fritzl's custody

Josef Fritzl
Mr Fritzl confessed to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years

A judge in Austria has extended by another month the detention of Josef Fritzl, accused of imprisoning his daughter in a cellar for 24 years.

The ruling came during a 15-minute, closed-door hearing in St Poelten, where Mr Fritzl is being held.

Mr Fritzl, who attended the hearing with his lawyer, is understood to have remained silent during the ruling.

He has been in custody in the Lower Austria regional capital since his arrest at the end of April.

The ruling, also attended by the state prosecutor, will be re-evaluated in a month, a court spokesman said.

The BBC's Bethany Bell, in St Poelten, says the extended custody will allow further time for the police to continue their investigation and also the state prosecutor to gather evidence.

It was not clear, she said, when the state prosecutor would next be interviewing Mr Fritzl.

In comments published on Thursday, Mr Fritzl said he was driven by an addiction that "got out of control".

Speaking through his lawyer, he said he had locked up his daughter Elisabeth to protect her from the outside world.

The statement was carried by the Austrian magazine News.

Over the past few days, police have been questioning dozens of people who had connections with Mr Fritzl and his family.

And they have been searching the cellar dungeon inch by inch.


In his statement through his lawyer, Mr Fritzl said he had 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," he said.

"I knew that I was hurting her. It was like an addiction...

"I knew the whole time that what I was doing was not right... but... it became completely matter-of-fact for me that I had a second life, which I led in the cellar of my house."

Mr Fritzl 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."

Children in care

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.

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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