Austrian lawyer out to prove Fritzl is no 'monster'

18th March 2009, Comments 1 comment

To hear Mayer tell it, Fritzl, 73, risked his reputation to save the life of the eldest child born out of his incestuous abuse of daughter Elisabeth.

Sankt Poelten -- Rudolf Mayer, the defence lawyer of incest dad Josef Fritzl, has set himself the task of proving his client is not the "monster of Amstetten" depicted in the press.

To hear Mayer tell it, Fritzl, 73, risked his reputation to save the life of the eldest child born out of his incestuous abuse of daughter Elisabeth.

That's what Mayer told the court in Sankt Poelten Monday on the first day of Fritzl's trial for incest and murder.

"He knew if he brought the girl out (of her cellar), it was all over."

Fritzl took the seriously ill child to hospital last April, thus spelling an end to 24 years of incest and sexual abuse, during which he fathered seven children with Elisabeth.

"You know what a monster would have done? He would have killed everyone. The end. And lived on as a respected citizen of Amstetten," Mayer continued.

The Vienna-based lawyer has in the past defended murderers, contract killers and neo-Nazi activists, as the newspaper cuttings in his office can attest.

But this 60-year-old father of three, with dark brown hair and sharp features, who always speaks in a grave voice, is often reluctant to give interviews.

For now, his strategy is simple: Fritzl was just a family man, not a sex tyrant or a beast as portrayed in the media.

"The effort he invested shows how emotionally involved he was. He always speaks of his second family (in the cellar)," Mayer told the German magazine Spiegel Online.

Fritzl is a real patriarch "with good and bad sides," he added.

"What's so spectacular about this case? The unusual thing here is that this person created a second family for themselves," Mayer told the court in his opening statement on Monday.

The son of an opera singer, Mayer turned to law rather late, only starting his law studies at the age of 29, after working as a bartender, actor and probation officer.

He has since become one of Austria's most famous and most sought-after defence lawyers.

Fritzl is on trial in Sankt Poelten for incest, rape and murder after locking up and raping Elisabeth for nearly a quarter of a century.

Gabrielle Grenz/AFP/Expatica

1 Comment To This Article

  • richard fusilier posted:

    on 18th March 2009, 22:52:52 - Reply

    He premeditatedly falsely imprisons a female, his own daughter. for many years, abuses and impregnates her during these years and he isn't a monster?