Justice minister blames authorities for Austrian incest case
7 May 2008
VIENNA – Austria’s Justice Minister Maria Berger criticised local authorities for being "gullible" in the Amstetten incest case, where a father abused his imprisoned daughter for 24 years.
In an interview published in the Wednesday edition of the daily Der Standard, Berger said the authorities had acted with a "certain gullibility" regarding Josef Fritzl’s claims that his allegedly missing daughter Elisabeth had abandoned three of her children at his doorstep.
The local authorities put the children, which turned out to be Fritzl’s own – results of repeated rapes of his daughter – in the care of the man and his wife.
Fritzl’s claims that his daughter, which the family reported missing in 1984, was in the clutches of a religious sect, should have been put under closer scrutiny, Berger said.
"Today one would look closer at this," the minister said.
As a first consequence of the incest case, Berger announced plans to increase scrutiny of potential adoptive parents, making a check of previous criminal convictions for all family member mandatory, even if children are adopted by relatives.
Berger rejected mandatory health checks for all children to investigate possible abuse, but announced plans to introduce stricter sentences of up to 20 years for severe cases of domestic violence or abuse.
[dpa / Expatica]