Fritzl Hides His Face in Defiance ; Bizarre Act in Court as Trial Opens ..Crowd Bays for Blood of Cellar Rapist

Article excerpt

JOSEF FRITZL hid his face behind a file folder today as he went on trial accused of imprisoning his daughter in a cellar for 24 years and fathering her seven children.

In a bizarre attempt to conceal his identity in front of the world's media, the 73-year-old Austrian held the ring binder up as he was led into the packed courtroom by police.

Live TV showed him continuing to obscure his face as the judges entered the court in St Poelten, west of Vienna, where he is on trial for murder, rape, incest, coercion, false imprisonment and enslavement. He faces life if convicted of murdering one of the children who died shortly after birth.

Under Austrian law, the media are allowed to ask questions before the proceedings begin.

Fritzl remained silent as he was asked how he felt about keeping his daughter Elisabeth in the soundproof cellar he built underneath the family home in Amstetten since she was an 18-year-old in 1984. Reporters asked if he took responsibility for the 3,000 rapes he perpetrated on her and if he had remorse for his crimes.

Fritzl, a controlling personality throughout his life, clearly wanted to

Anger at secret trial remain in control of the proceedings .

He stayed hidden behind the file binder, refusing to remove it or answer any questions .

It is the first time the world has seen him since his arrest in April last year.

The courthouse was ringed by heavily armed police after overnight death threats were made against Fritzl and his lawyer and anger outside court. …