Page last updated at 13:32 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 14:32 UK

Fritzl trial to begin 'this year'

"Building of Justice" sign outside justice institution in St Poelten
Mr Fritzl is currently being held St Poelten's Justice Institution

The Austrian man accused of imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering her children will go on trial by the end of the year, the authorities say.

A court spokesman in St Poelten in the province of Lower Austria said preparations for the trial of Joseph Fritzl, 73, were going at "full speed".

Prosecutors say Mr Fritzl has confessed to keeping his daughter Elisabeth captive in a cell at his home.

DNA tests have shown he is the father of six of Elisabeth's children.

Ongoing investigation

Mr Fritzl is being held in pre-trial detention in St Poelten, 50 miles (80 km) west of the capital Vienna.

His alleged victims, including Elisabeth, 42, are undergoing treatment at a psychiatric hospital.

If doctors permit, they will be questioned next month.

Josef Fritzl
Police say Fritzl has admitted imprisoning and raping his daughter
Court spokesman Franz Cutka said Mr Fritzl's lawyers would be allowed to put their questions to Elisabeth via a video link, and the footage would be presented during the trial.

Mr Fritzl is expected to be formally charged after authorities complete their investigation.

The case first came to light after Kerstin, one of the children fathered by Mr Fritzl, became seriously ill and was taken to hospital.

Unable to find any medical records, they appealed for the teenager's mother to come forward.

At that point Mr Fritzl released Elisabeth, who then explained the story to police.

Kerstin was finally reunited with her family after coming out of a coma earlier this month. She is expected to make a full recovery.

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