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Maximum security for Fritzl's house of horrors trial

world Updated: Mar 15, 2009 09:49 IST

Josef Fritzl, who locked his daughter in a cellar for 24 years and repeatedly raped her, goes on trial on Monday facing a life jail term to put the seal on his international notoriety.

Outrage caused by the case means Fritzl's trial will be held in maximum security conditions with the airspace over the Austrian court house sealed off, while his daughter and her children have again sought the haven of a clinic.

The 73-year-old retired electrical engineer will plead guilty to incest, rape, sequestration and grievous assault for imprisoning his daughter Elisabeth and fathering seven children, his lawyer Rudolf Mayer said.

But he will contest charges of slavery and the murder of one of the children, which carries a life sentence.

Fritzl has been charged with letting one of the seven babies he fathered die shortly after birth, failing to seek medical help, even though he knew its life was in danger.

Fritzl maintains that the baby, whose body he burnt in a wood-fired boiler in the cellar, was still-born.

Elisabeth Fritzl's case stunned international opinion last April when the eldest cellar child had to be hospitalised and her ordeal in the house in the small town of Amstetten was brought to light.

The trial, presided by three judges, is being held in the regional capital of Sankt Poelten and the eight person jury is expected to give a verdict on Friday.