Page last updated at 06:05 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Psychiatrist to testify on Fritzl

Josef Fritzl in court (17/03/09)
Mr Fritzl had been hiding his face for the first two days of the trial

A psychiatrist who examined Josef Fritzl, the Austrian accused of crimes against the children he kept locked in a cellar, is to testify at his trial.

Dr Adelheid Kastner will give her views about the 73-year-old, who fathered seven children with his daughter.

The judges are expected to retire later to consider the evidence and deliver a verdict on Thursday.

Mr Fritzl admits incest but denies charges including murdering one of the children soon after its birth.

He has pleaded "partially" guilty to rape, but denies enslavement at the trial, which began on Monday in the town of St Poelten.

Windowless cellar

The expert testimony is expected to be crucial in deciding what kind of prison Mr Fritzl is sent to if he is found guilty of the most serious charges he faces.

The prosecution want him committed to a psychiatric prison - which is more likely should he be regarded as a potential repeat offender.

Murder - not guilty plea
Enslavement - not guilty plea
Deprivation of liberty - guilty plea
Rape - partially guilty plea*
Incest - guilty plea
Coercion - guilty plea

*Understood to mean he is contesting the wording of the charges

Mr Fritzl is said to have a severe personality disorder.

Dr Kastner's report late last year concluded that he was mentally fit to stand trial.

Also on Wednesday, jurors in the case are due to hear statements from two technical experts regarding the cellar in which Mr Fritzl is said to have locked his daughter for 24 years - and fathered seven children with her.

Journalists and members of the public were barred from the court on Tuesday to protect victims' identities, as hours of videotaped testimony from the Fritzl children was played.

Mr Fritzl is said to to have lured his daughter into a cellar with windowless soundproofed chambers beneath their house in 1984.

He allegedly imprisoned her there and raped her repeatedly for more than two decades.

The daughter and three of her seven children fathered by Mr Fritzl were kept captive in the cellar until the case came to light in April last year, when one of the children became seriously ill and was taken to hospital.

Mr Fritzl is accused of murdering one of the newborn twin boys his daughter gave birth to in 1996, having failed to arrange medical care for the ailing infant.

He faces life in prison if he is convicted of murder, but denies the charge.

The charge of enslavement carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and some of the other charges carry a sentence of up to 15 years.

It emerged on Tuesday that a psychiatrist has been caring for Mr Fritzl before and during the trial, to ensure he does not attempt to kill himself.

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