May 8, Sydney Morning Herald

The Austrian man accused of keeping his daughter as a sex slave for 24 years has claimed credit for saving the life of one of the children produced by the incestuous relationship.

Local newspapers have published excerpts of Josef Fritzl's interviews with police, after they were supplied by his lawyer.

In them, the 73-year-old insists he is "no monster", claimed credit for having saved the life of his daughter and added: "I could have killed them all. Then there would have been no trace. No-one would have found me out."

Nineteen-year-old Kerstin, who was born in the cramped dungeon where Fritzl held his daughter prisoner and was never allowed out, was rushed to hospital on April 19 with multiple organ failure, which doctors suggest could be a result of her incarceration.

She has since been in an artificially-induced coma and put on a life-support machine.

It was Kerstin's hospitalisation that triggered the events which led to the discovery of the shocking abuse case. But Fritzl said: "If it weren't for me, Kerstin wouldn't be alive today."

He added: "It was me who made sure she was taken to hospital."

Police say the retired electrician has admitted that he locked away his daughter Elisabeth, now 42, when she was just 18 and repeatedly raped her, forcing her to bear seven children in all.

Three children remained incarcerated with their mother, three were legally adopted by Fritzl and taken to live as his "grandchildren" in the family home upstairs. The seventh child died shortly after birth.

The case has sparked widespread calls for tougher punishment for rapists and paedophiles.

Meanwhile, the town of Amstetten, now world-famous as a result of the case, today staged a rally in support of the victims.

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photo: Austria's house of horrors ... Elisabeth Fritzl, her father Josef, and the basement where she was kept. (SMH)