Austria cellar daughter is reunited with family

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The Independent Online

One of the offspring of an Austrian man who kept his daughter confined to a basement for decades and fathered her seven children has been reunited with her family and is expected to make a good recovery, doctors and a lawyer said today.

Kerstin Fritzl met with other family members on Sunday, shortly after doctors woke her from an artificially induced coma she had been in for weeks, according to two doctors and Christoph Herbst, a lawyer representing the victims in the case.

She was admitted to a hospital on 19 April, unconscious and suffering from multiple organ failure.

Albert Reiter, the doctor who treated Kerstin, said she greeted him during a morning visit on 1 June.

"I say to Kerstin — 'Hello Kerstin' — and Kerstin tells me: 'Hello,"' Reiter told reporters at a news conference in a hotel in Zeillern, several miles from Amstetten.

"For all of us, Kerstin's surprising recovery is a great relief," said Berthold Kepplinger, director of a psychiatric clinic where the reunited family is recovering from their ordeal.

Kepplinger, who described the reunion as a "touching moment," said Kerstin has expressed "many wishes," including going on a boat ride.

Reiter added that she also wanted to go to a Robbie Williams concert and even attempted to dance to his music in bed before her tubing was removed.

Josef Fritzl is accused of raping his daughter repeatedly while confining her to a basement hideaway for 24 years.

The case began to unravel during Kerstin's hospitalisation when doctors appealed on TV for her mother to come forward because they needed information about the young woman's medical history.

Fritzl then accompanied his daughter, 42-year-old Elisabeth, to the hospital on 26 April and her story came to light shortly after.

On Friday, authorities decided to extend pretrial custody for Fritzl, 73, by another two months. Fritzl was formally placed in custody on 29 April and will likely be charged when the investigation is complete.

Three of the children fathered by Fritzl, including Kerstin, were raised in a cellar at his home in the lower Austrian town of Amstetten, west of Vienna, authorities say. Three others were brought up above ground to live with Fritzl and his wife, and one died in infancy. DNA tests confirmed Fritzl is the biological father of the six surviving children.