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Josef Fritzl, an Austrian man who held his daughter captive in his basement as a sex slave for 24 years, fathering seven of her children, was seen smirking Thursday after a court ruled that he could be transferred from a psychiatric ward to a regular prison.

Fritzl’s move to a regular prison reportedly marks the first step of his parole bid. Austrian law allows prisoners sentenced to life in prison to apply for parole after serving 15 years, which Fritzl will mark in March, since he was initially sentenced in 2009.

“In summary, the court has come to the conclusion that it is indeed the case that he is no longer dangerous,” Fritzl’s lawyer Astrid Wagner told The Associated Press.

Fritzl reportedly has dementia, and a psychiatric evaluation suggested that he does not pose any future threats to the public. Thursday’s court decision overturned a 2022 ruling rejecting Fritzl’s request to be moved to a regular prison. 

SEX OFFENDER WHO LOCKED UP DAUGHTER FOR 24 YEARS, FATHERED 7 OF HER CHILDREN MAY BE RELEASED

Incest monster Josef Fritzl in a van

Josef Fritzl is transported from court in Krems, Austria, on Thursday, January 25, 2024. Fritzl was sentenced to life in prison for crimes related to the rape and enslavement of his own daughter in the basement of a house, but now after winning his bid to be moved to a regular prison, is paving the way for his future release. (News Licensing/Mega)

Dubbed the “monster of Amstetten,” Fritzl kidnapped his own 18-year-old daughter, Elisabeth, in 1984 and kept her locked in a sound-proof basement in their Amstetten home, where he fathered seven of her children over more than two decades.

She was found in 2008 after 24 years of captivity and brutal abuse in the windowless basement. Elisabeth’s mother was apparently oblivious to her daughter’s captivity in her own home, according to Austrian authorities.

JOSEF FRITZL, WHO RAPED DAUGHTER AND KEPT HER CAPTIVE FOR 24 YEARS, COULD MOVE TO REGULAR PRISON

Incest monster Josef Fritzl in a van

Josef Fritzl is transported from court in Krems, Austria, on Thursday, January 25, 2024. Fritzl was sentenced to life in prison for crimes related to the rape and enslavement of his own daughter in the basement of a house. (News Licensing/Mega)

When asked about her whereabouts, Fritzl would reportedly say she had run away. In 2008, authorities charged Fritzl with incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment, enslavement and negligent homicide after he had killed one of the sons he had fathered with his captive daughter soon after the baby was born.

The court agreed to move Fritzl into a regular prison upon the condition that he undergo psychotherapy and psychiatric evaluations over a 10-year probation period, the Austria Press Agency reported.

CELLAR WHERE JOSEF FRITZL HELD DAUGHTER AND FATHERED HER CHILDREN TO BE FILLED WITH CEMENT

Incest monster Josef Fritzl in a police car

Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter in a cellar for over 24 years and fathered seven children with her, is escorted back to a prison after his hearing at the regional court in Krems an der Donau, Austria, on January 25, 2024. The reginal court in Krems, some 50 miles northwest of Vienna, approved the application of Fritzl to be transferred out of the jail he is currently in for the mentally ill who pose a high degree of danger, to a regular prison. Fritzl, now 88, was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for the murder by neglect of a newborn baby he fathered with his daughter Elisabeth while holding her in the purpose-built basement of his house. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images)

Fritzl’s attorney said his client was “close to tears” during Thursday’s hearing. 

DAUGHTER OF AUSTRIAN ‘HORROR DAD’ JOSEF FRITZL REPORTEDLY WAKES FROM COMA

“He said he is unbelievably sorry for his victims, he would love to undo everything he did,” Wagner said.

Building materials stand in the garden of the house of Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter captive for 24 years and fathered seven children in the cellar, in the village of Amstetten June 21, 2013. The cellar is being sealed off with concrete, much to the relief of neighbours keen to forget one of Austria's most horrific crimes. Fritzl, was sentenced in 2009 to life imprisonment in a special unit for the criminally insane for incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment, enslavement and for the negligent homicide of one of his infant sons.

Building materials stand in the garden of the house of Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter captive for 24 years and fathered seven children in the cellar, in the village of Amstetten. (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

In a 2009 statement, the St. Poelten provincial prosecutors’ office said that Fritzl had “forced Elisabeth into slave-like conditions . . . shut her away in the cellar and made her totally dependent on him, forcing her into sexual acts and treating her as if she was his own property,” according to Reuters.

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Prosecutors also alleged that Fritzl had threatened to kill Elisabeth and gas their children to death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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