Josef Fritzl, sex offender who locked up his daughter for 24 years, could be eligible for parole

An Austrian man who locked his daughter in a basement for 24 years and fathered seven children with her could apply for early release — 15 years after he was sentenced to life in prison for those crimes, according to Reuters

Josef Fritzl, now 88, was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 after pleading guilty in Austrian court to incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment and enslavement, along with negligent homicide in the death of one of his infant sons. 

His daughter, Elisabeth Fritzl, had been first locked in the family's basement when she was 18 years old. 

According to the Associated Press, he told the court at his 2009 sentencing that "I regret it with all my heart...I can't make it right anymore."

Under the country's laws, prisoners sentenced to life can apply for parole after serving 15 years behind bars, making Fritzl eligible this year. 

Now in a unit for the criminally insane, he could be transferred to prison, where he could apply for release, an official told Reuters Tuesday. 

FILE -- Josef Fritzl is escorted to the fourth day of his trial in the provincial courthouse in St. Poelten, Austria, on March 19, 2009. AP Photo/Robert Jaeger

His lawyer, Astrid Wagner, told Sky News that if he were released, she hopes to move him to a nursing home.

The situation came to light when Elisabeth's oldest child, a then 19-year-old woman, was hospitalized with a severe infection in April 2008. Doctors, unable to find medical records for the woman, appealed on TV for her mother to come forward. 

Fritzl, according to the AP, then accompanied Elisabeth to the hospital, where he subsequently told police that he had fathered seven children with her, telling his lawyer at the time, "I'm only being portrayed as a monster and not as someone who committed monstrous acts."

Fritzl eventually confessed to police he had fathered seven children with Elisabeth. Three were kept in the basement, while he and his wife raised three of the children. 

The remains of a seventh child, who died shortly after birth, were burnt in the house furnace, per Reuters. 

The horrific story would later inspire a 2021 Hollywood movie "Girl in the Basement."

Authorities in Austria had announced plans in 2011 to demolish the house where Elisabeth was kept, but those were not carried out. Instead, the basement was filled with concrete in 2013 and sold, according to BBC News

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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