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Incest family victims of bungling
  Incest family victims of bungling

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PRESSURE has mounted on Austrian authorities amid claims that bungling by police and officials may have prolonged the agony of Elisabeth Fritzl, who was held in a dungeon and sexually abused by her father for almost a quarter of a century.

Video grab showing Josef Fritzl on holiday in Thailand. Picture: Sky News.

Josef Fritzl bought sexy underwear for his daughter and told a friend he had a bit on the side.

Friend Paul Hoerer has revealed he saw Fritzl buying frilly underwear and a slinky dress at a market stall while they were on holidays in Thailand.

He was really annoyed when he turned round and saw I'd been watching him. He then admitted he had a woman 'on the side', Mr Hoerer told Britain's The Sun.

While Elisabeth, 42, and her children enjoyed an impromptu birthday celebration for her 12-year-old son, Alexander, yesterday at a clinic, shocked Austrians questioned the investigation.

Lower Austria police chief Franz Polzer stonewalled as he was bombarded with media questions. He emphasised that Fritzl, the father of seven children from a relationship with Elisabeth, had acted alone in imprisoning his family in a cramped cellar beneath his home for 24 years.

We are not conducting an investigation into a crime involving accomplices, he said. But Colonel Polzer also announced the unravelling of the case was due to an anonymous tip-off.

Elisabeth was detained in the grounds of the hospital where her critically ill daughter, 19 - one of her seven children - was being treated. Police seized Elisabeth, suspecting her of child neglect until she told the full story.

Their action raises the question: who tipped off the police if not an accomplice? Reports suggested it was a hospital doctor.

Colonel Polzer said: Knowing about a crime is not the same as being an accomplice. The informant asked anonymity and we will respect that.

Police seem determined to rule out any possibility of someone being in league with Fritzl.

But the door to the dungeon, which had received building permission as a nuclear fallout shelter, weighed 300kg and could be hinged into position only with the help of someone else.

Fritzl also went on several holidays, including at least one three-week stay in Thailand, leaving Elisabeth and her children in the cellar. Even if the small pantry had been full of cans, it is unlikely there would have been enough food to feed them. And questions remain about how the imprisoned relatives disposed of rubbish.

Colonel Polzer blocked questions on the issue and seemed to deny knowledge of Fritzl's holidays. If there is a home video from this Thailand trip, then we would like the media to give it to us and we will then think about it.

The video, widely televised, shows Fritzl receiving a massage on a beach, eating pizza and riding on an elephant.

The case is based on two hours of testimony from Elisabeth, a partial confession from her father and DNA results, which confirm an incestuous relationship. The key question has been why his sexual history was not taken into account.

Although he was convicted of rape in the late 1960s, this record was expunged under a law that seeks to rehabilitate offenders.

The essential lesson from this case is that previous convictions for sex crimes should be taken into account in the case of adoption, said the Die Presse yesterday. The newspaper's call has been echoed across Austria.

Police would seek to reconstruct in detail the past 25 years of Josef Fritzl's life.

Police searched other properties owned across Austria by Fritzl, 73, and looked into possible links to other crimes.

Officers revealed they were searching for a connection between Fritzl and the murder of Martina Posch, 17, who was found near the shore of a lake in western Austria in 1986. Posch disappeared from her home on November 12, 1986, and her body, tied up in plastic bags,


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