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Josef Fritzl could be moved from prison to nursing home

Josef Fritzl, the Austrian sex offender who locked his daughter in a cellar and kept her there for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, could be moved from prison into a nursing home, with a new psychiatrist’s report deeming him “harmless”.

In March 2009, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and committed to an institution for mentally abnormal offenders.

According to a new psychiatrist’s report, as yet to be published, Fritzl, who is now 88 years old and suffers from dementia, is “harmless”, meaning he could be released from prison.

His lawyer Astrid Wagner said that her client’s “dangerousness has diminished”.

“That was also obvious to me. On the one hand there is dementia, on the other hand he has also become physically very frail.

“My client told me that he basically wants to be released from prison in the foreseeable future,” Ms Wagner said.

“This is also possible because he has already served at least 15 years. This means that it is foreseeable that he can be released from prison. The first step, however, is an expert opinion confirming that his dangerousness has been reduced.

“This expert opinion was obtained by Dr Adelheid Kastner, who already examined him 15 years ago, and has now clearly confirmed that my client is no longer dangerous.”

Ms Wagner said Fritzl has suffered “physical and cognitive degradation”.

“He has a right – human dignity demands it – a right to be treated accordingly. And in my opinion, this is only possible in a nursing home and not in a prison,” she added.

In April 2008, it emerged that Fritzl, then 73 years old, had been keeping his own daughter captive in the cellar of his house for 24 years, and had raped her and fathered seven children with her.

He was found by Austrian police to have acted alone when he imprisoned and raped her, and he admitted to building a “dungeon” and holding his daughter and three children there.

His daughter, who was 42 years old when she was released from the cellar, had alleged she was drugged by her father in August 1984 and had been his prisoner ever since, giving birth to seven children in the “dungeon”.

The six surviving children are three boys and three girls who were aged between five and 19 at that time.

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