For much of his four-day trial, Josef Fritzl hid his face from onlookers. Yet soon the world may be seeing a lot of the Austrian man convicted of raping and enslaving his daughter for 24 years in a “basement of horrors” underneath the family home. That’s because a one-time, exclusive TV interview with Fritzl is being pitched to media outlets. With more than $5.5 million in debts, the 73-year-old is bankrupt. Creditors, including the taxman, are carving up and liquidating his assets, leaving nothing to compensate his traumatized daughter Elizabeth and the six children she had with him.
Officials and creditors are reportedly willing to allow an interview on the condition that all proceeds go to his victims. It is a far cry from just before the trial, when the German magazine Stern reported that Fritzl unsuccessfully tried to hock a transcript of his police interrogation for more than $6 million, as well as drawings done by some of Elizabeth’s children.
According to Michael Leidig, owner of the Central European News agency, which has covered the saga extensively and is handling the deal, neither he nor the creditors will charge a fee or try to seize the money. And the interview deal would apparently include exclusive footage inside the sprawling house in Amstetten with its 650-sq.-foot dungeon, which has been under police guard since Fritzl was arrested last April.
Still, Leidig is prepared for the usual media outlets to be skittish about giving a public outlet to a man who committed unspeakably vile acts. “Under normal circumstances no respectable media organization would pay a criminal for their story,” Leidig admitted. “But given the very unusual circumstances and the fact that every penny will be going directly to the victims as compensation—I’m hoping that we will have a lot of interest.”
Meanwhile, Fritzl will go to a psychiatric hospital to start his life sentence. Psychiatrist Adelheid Kastner testified that, if untreated, Fritzl will commit more crimes, so great is his “need to dominate and control other people.”