Josef Fritzl says he is ‘sure’ his family will forgive him in rare statement

Josef Fritzl, the notorious rapist who locked his daughter in a cellar for decades and fathered seven children with her, has said he believes his family will forgive him.

The 87-year-old was jailed for life in 2009 after he was found to have imprisoned and raped his daughter in a purpose-built basement under their family home in Austria for 24 years, over which period she gave birth to seven of his children.

Having told his family and police that Elisabeth had run away to join a cult in 1984, aged 18, Fritzl planted three of the children as foundlings and raised them with his unsuspecting wife in their Amstetten home, while keeping the others hidden downstairs, one of whom died shortly after birth in 1996.

His crimes were discovered in 2008 shortly after he relented to take Elisabeth’s eldest daughter to hospital, setting in motion a chain of events which saw police arrest him seven days later.

In a rare statement issued through his laywer Astrid Wagner, Fritzl told The Sun: “I miss my family very, very much. I am always thinking of them, and how I would like to see my grandchildren.

“But I definitely believe that I am going to see them again one day. I am sure that we are going to be reunited and I think they are going to forgive me for what I have done. I’m sure of it.”

Claiming to be “extremely sorry” and to “regret my crimes and the hurt I have caused”, Fritzl continued: “I would just add though, that I didn’t murder anyone or anything like that, so I do reject some of the ways I am sometimes referred to.”

Fritzl was convicted by a jury in 2009 of incest, rape, enslavement, coercion and causing the death of his child by negligence, having eventually pleaded guilty to all charges.

Josef Fritzl admitted to raping his daughter ‘at least 3,000 times’ while holding her captive (Getty Images)
Josef Fritzl admitted to raping his daughter ‘at least 3,000 times’ while holding her captive (Getty Images)

Insisting that his 14 years at the high-security Stein prison, near Vienna, have “most definitely changed me”, Fritzl said: “Through having been incarcerated myself I have developed a deeper appreciation of what this feels like for others.”

In a bizarre turn, Fritzl described himself as a “monarchist” and “a big fan of King Charles”, and said he had watched the “splendid” coronation on television from prison.

Saying it was “very, very sad that Diana is no longer around”, he sought to compare the monarch’s marriage to his own as he added: “But I know that Camilla makes King Charles happy as his wife, so that is okay too, as this is what really counts. My wife and I also made things work in our own way.”

Three years after his imprisonment, Fritzl was reported to have divorced his wife of 52 years, Rosemarie – who was cleared of any involvement in his crimes – for failing to visit him in jail.