Austrians criticize authorities in incest case
A huge majority of Austrians believe that the authorities made grave mistakes in the Amstetten incest case where a father sexually abused and imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, reported dpa.
Claims by authorities that their work was in order was "completely inappropriate and implausible," almost 90 per cent of those interviewed in a recent survey said.
Only 10.6 per cent believe local authorities did everything possible to find Elisabeth Fritzl, 42, who was reported missing in 1984, after father Josef, 73, had imprisoned her.
A total of 93.1 per cent said Amstetten's authorities neglected proper checks on the Fritzl's claims that the children were abandoned on his doorstep when they gave three of Elisabeth's children in to his care.
Just over 90 per cent agreed that authorities had put the interests of the potential offender over the victims' rights.
Only 5.3 per cent believed that neither police nor neighbours and friends noticed anything strange in Fritzl's behaviour.
Those sentiments were echoed by Justice Minister Maria Berger, who said local authorities had been too "gullible," believing Fritzl's story that his daughter had run away to join an obscure religious sect.
In a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, Interior Minister Guenther Platter blasted the crime as the "most disgusting crime I can remember."
Both he and Berger vowed to pass stricter legislation against sexual offenders.
Maximum sentences will be raised, and in the case of severe sex crimes, deletion of the crime from police registers will be abolished, Platter said.
Ministers also announced plans to strengthen obligations to report potential abuse cases, lengthen probation periods and introduce a register for sexual offenders and a ban for them to work in certain jobs.
People found guilty of prolonged domestic violence and sexual abuse will also face stricter sentences of up to 20 years in prison. The new legislation will be in force by 2009, the ministers promised. d