PASSAU, Germany, May 7, 2008 — -- Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who fathered seven children with his daughter while keeping her imprisoned in a windowless dungeon in his cellar, has complained about poor media coverage of the case.
His criticism of the international media's reporting was published in the German tabloid Bild Zeitung.
"I could have killed them all," reads the front page headline of today's Bild Zeitung. And Fritzl, dubbed a monster by the Austrian media, told his lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, "I'm not a monster," according to today's report.
Fritzl is sharing his prison cell with another man who is serving time for taking part in a shooting incident. The men have a TV set and a radio available to them in their cell.
Fritz's lawyer has been seeing him and, according to Bild Zeitung, his client has complained to the lawyer that media coverage has been "unfair" and "completely one-sided."
"I could have killed them all, and no one would ever have known, no one would ever have found out," he reportedly told his lawyer.
Fritzl has confessed to locking up his daughter for almost 24 years, and fathering seven children with her during that time.
Three of those children, Kerstin, 19, Stefan, 18, and Felix, 5, had never seen sunlight until they were released from their captivity by police last month after Kerstin became seriously ill and was taken to hospital for a life-threatening disease. The young woman has since remained in a medically induced coma and is said to be in critical condition.
"If it wasn't for me, Kerstin would not be alive today," Fritzl is quoted by his lawyer as saying. "It was me who made sure she was taken to hospital."
Fritzl was questioned by a state prosecutor for the first time today.
"The hearing, which lasted for about 2 hours, mainly focused on the basic details of Mr. Fritzl and his family's background, as is required by Austrian Law," prosecution spokesman Gerhard Sedlacek told reporters. "Mr. Fritzl has told the prosecutor in charge that he's now willing to cooperate with the prosecution."
Fritzl's lawyer, Mayer, had previously said that his client was "emotionally a broken man, who does not belong in a prison, but rather in a closed psychiatric hospital."
He also claimed that it would be impossible for his client to get a fair trial in front of a jury, given the media coverage and the publicity the case has generated worldwide.
The lawyer, who has received plenty of hate mail since he took the case, told reporters in Vienna that he was trying to get a certificate of insanity for his client, in order to be able to declare him unfit to stand trial.
Meanwhile, the case has reached the Austrian Parliament, where members are debating today on whether to introduce lengthier prison sentences for sex offenders and whether to change the existing laws to allow criminal records to be kept for a longer period. Under current laws, files on sex offenses are removed from the records after 15 years.
The move comes after the revelation that Fritzl had previously served 18 months in jail for a rape conviction but was nevertheless awarded care of three infants thought to have been found on the Fritzls' doorstep.
In fact, these were three of the children born out of his incestuous relationship with his daughter, who were allowed to grow up in the care of their grandparents upstairs while their siblings were suffering in captivity with their mother in the secret dungeon in the basement.