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Josef Fritzl ‘free in a year’ after sentence for using daughter as sex slave

A dad who kept his daughter as a sex slave for 24 years and fathered seven of her children is eligible for release next year.

Josef Fritzl, 87, was jailed in 2009 for locking his daughter Elisabeth in the basement of their Austrian home and raping her thousands of times.

He has now been moved from psychiatric detention to a normal prison after Krems Regional Court ruled he was no longer a danger, The Local Austria reported. 

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel decided to release Fritzl into a standard prison under 10-year probation, but the decision is subject to an appeal at a higher court.

The decision took into consideration a mental health assessment on Fritzl released last month.

Fritzl, who is reportedly suffering from dementia, was behind bars in Krems-Stein prison which deals with prisoners who have mental illnesses. 

Defendant Josef Fritzl arrives for the last day of his trial at the court of law in Sankt Poelten in Austria's province of Lower Austria March 19, 2009. Fritzl, a 73-year-old Austrian who locked his daughter in a cellar for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, is expected to be jailed for the rest of his life today. Fritzl reversed his plea and admitted guilt on all charges in court on Wednesday after watching the daughter he locked up and raped describe her ordeal in an 11-hour video testimony. REUTERS/POOL/Robert Jaeger (AUSTRIA CONFLICT SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Josef Fritzl who kept his daughter as a sex slave for 24 year (Reuters)

Fritzl’s daughter Elisabeth has not had any contact with him since he was jailed and lives under a new alias with her children.

She gave birth to seven children while in captivity – three stayed in the dungeon with her, one died shortly after birth and another three were brought up by Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie.

Fritzl lured his daughter down in the basement when she was 18 years old.

Rosemarie filed a missing persons report, but Fritzl handed over a letter to the police from Elisabeth, stating that she said she was staying with a friend and didn’t want to be found.

He told authorities she had most likely joined a religious cult.

The Fritzl case emerged in April 2008 after Elisabeth told police she had been held captive for 24 years when she was allowed out of the cell and taken to a hospital.

AMSTETTEN, AUSTRIA - UNDATED: In this undated Police handout image provided by Security Administration of Lower Austria a hidden room at the house and hiding place, where a father imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and had seven children with her, is seen in Amstetten, Austria. According to police Josef Fritzl kept his daughter Elizabeth, now 42, imprisoned in his basement and sexually abused her. Three of the children, now aged 5, 18 and 19, had never seen the light of day until the eldest was recently taken to hospital because of a severe illness. (Photo by SID Lower Austria via Getty Images)
A hidden room where Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter for 24 years (Getty)

A court initially decided to move Fritzl to a regular prison last autumn due to his deteriorating health but a higher court overturned this for procedural reasons. 

There were reports he kept to himself and rarely left his cell in fear of being attacked by other convicts.

In 2016, he had his teeth knocked out by fellow prisoners.

Fritzl is eligible for release in 2023 after receiving a life sentence but this is unlikely.

If he were to be freed, he would have been kept in detention for less time than he held his daughter prisoner. 

Fritz changed his last name to Mayrhoff in 2017 to spend the last days of his life ‘in anonymity’.

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