The ‘Monster of Austria’ may soon walk free

The Monster of Austria Credit: elke.koch/OsterreicheBibliothek

The infamous Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter locked in a cellar for 24 years and forced her to endure unimaginable abuse, may soon walk free. 

Fritzl was sentenced to ‘life’ in prison in 2009 after admitting that he had held his daughter Elisabeth prisoner under his house for over two decades and forcibly fathered seven children with her. He was only caught after staff at a hospital became suspicious when attending to his and Elisabeth’s eldest daughter during an emergency visit. 

His sentence is currently being carried out at Stein Prison in Austria, a high-security facility for mentally ill criminals. However, life in Austria is classed as 15 years, and due to the fact that all prisoners can apply for conditional release at the end of their sentence, Fritzl will be eligible for parole in March 2024. 

Reports have emerged from locals in Krems, which is close to the facility, that the infamous criminal, now aged 88,  has been seen ‘having coffee in cafes’, in preparation for his possible release. It is a standard practice in Austria to allow long-term prisoners out for supervised short trips in the lead-up to a release, in order to get them acclimated to the outside world.

Although Fritzl is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and is believed to be frail, needing the help of a walking frame to get around, he is reported to have asked to be released early on several occasions over the last two years. His lawyer, Astrid Wagner, who published a book last year based on letters he’s written, explained that he could potentially be moved to a care home, adding: ‘I personally see a chance for release. He fulfils all the criteria. This man is almost 90 years old and his mental condition is deteriorating. He is in need of support and care.’

She concluded by saying: ‘Joseph Fritzl is only human, not a beast. He is a man who has not mastered his inner demons.’

Does everyone deserve a second chance? Or should Josef Fritzl eternally pay for his heinous crimes by never feeling freedom again? 

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Written by

Jennifer Popplewell

Jennifer is a proud northerner from Sheffield, England, who is currently living in Spain. She loves swimming in rivers, talking to the stars and eating luxurious chocolate.