Josef Fritzl was paroled from a prison for the mentally ill by an Austrian court – as an incest monster, he is seen outside prison for the first time in 15 years

Incest monster Josef Fritzl was today paroled from a mental institution by an Austrian court, shortly after he was first caught outside the prison.

The 88-year-old has reportedly already been spotted outside the prison – where he is serving a life sentence – enjoying coffee at several local cafes this week.

Images have also now emerged of Fritzl – captured through the window of a police van as he was tied up at the back of the Landesgericht at 7.20am this morning – in what would be the first images of him outside in years.

Fritzl – who changed his name to Mayrhoff in an alleged attempt to avoid physical attacks from other inmates – was locked up in 2009 after admitting to raping his daughter Elisabeth and fathering seven children with her.

He held her captive in an underground dungeon for 24 years in one of the most heinous and appalling crimes ever recorded in his native Austria.

Fritzl has been in prison since his conviction for the incest, rape, enslavement, coercion and neglect murder of his newborn son.

After today’s court hearing, Fritzl’s lawyers said he will be transferred from a mental institution to a regular prison in the first step of parole, which he will be officially eligible for in March.

Incest monster Josef Fritzl pictured outside prison for first time in 15 years as parole bid

Josef Fritzl is seen during the fourth day of his trial at the regional court in St. Poelten in 2009

Fritzl – who changed his name to Mayrhoff in an alleged attempt to avoid physical attacks from other inmates – was locked up in 2009 after admitting to raping his daughter Elisabeth (pictured) and fathering seven children with her.

Local media reported yesterday that he had been spotted in cafes near his prison in Krems an der Donau, apparently in preparation for his release.

The respected regional weekly Bezirksblatt claimed that Fritzl «was seen in various cafes of Krems».

The editor of the Bezirksblatt, who has been covering the Fritzl case for many years, confirmed multiple sightings of the corrupt convict taking coffee.

‘Is it true. Several people I trust completely have told me they have seen him,” she said on condition of anonymity.

“It’s not like just one resident is convinced they’ve seen Fritzl. I have this information from several trusted acquaintances independently of myself.”

The sightings came as efforts to free Fritzl from a secure psychiatric wing culminated. After 15 years behind bars, the depraved pensioner will be eligible for parole in March this year under Austria’s leniency laws.

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Prisoners who are sentenced to parole may be released depending on their behavior, mental and physical condition.

Fritzl repeatedly asked to be released. In addition to suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, he is also said to be so frail that he needs to walk around.

Adelheid Kastner, one of Austria’s most respected psychiatrists, said that Fritzl was no longer a threat to society and would not be able to commit any crimes.

But being allowed to leave the prison under supervision for short trips would be the first step in acclimatizing the inmate to the outside world in the long term.

Social media users were horrified by the news of the sighting.

One niece, Karin Strasser, said: “He has dementia, but can he go for coffee? Something is wrong here.

“Day parole after such a heinous crime? This is completely incomprehensible.’

Another user, Wird Sein, argued: “Whether someone is still a threat or not is irrelevant. Crime must be punished.

«He doesn’t regret anything. His daughter was jailed for 24 years. He served only 15 years in a fairly comfortable prison cell.’

And Andrea Breithuber said: “It makes me sick that this creature is allowed to walk around. What happened to our country?’

Fritzl brought children’s clothes and underwear with him on his trip to Thailand

Fritzl, his cell window pictured, changed his name to Mayrhoff in an alleged attempt to avoid attacks from other prisoners.

The street where Elisabeth was kept in the cellar for over 20 years

Fritzl has reportedly applied for early release several times in the past two years.

His lawyer Astrid Wagner, who last year published a book based on a series of his letters, told Newsflash that a new life in a nursing home was «within the realm of possibility».

She said: “I personally see a chance of being released. It meets all the criteria.

“This man is almost 90 years old and his mental state is deteriorating. He needs support and care.”

Psychiatrists and medical professionals continue to monitor Fritzl’s condition.

Ms Wagner explained: “Most of the time he can be communicated with normally. But there are these weird bugs.”

In one of these so-called ‘lapses’, Fritzl is said to have said that he expected his abused daughter Elisabeth to marry tennis ace Boris Becker.

“One day he told me how happy he was about his daughter’s marriage to Becker. The next time I saw him, he told me they had broken up,” Ms Wagner said.

“He is polite and very charming. Josef Fritzl is only a man, not an animal. He is a man who has not mastered his inner demons.’

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Local reports also claim that Fritzl appears confused, regularly talks to television and believes he is a pop star with hundreds of adoring fans.

Wagner said he completely refuses to believe he has dementia and sees the fact that he can only hobble around with the help of a walker as a «temporary circumstance.»

The lawyer said he remains adamant he is a famous pop star – and dementia sees him slip into these fantasy worlds for long periods of time.

«He hardly ever turns on the TV in his cell because he thinks he sees thousands of fans enthusiastically waving at him and asking him for autographs on every channel,» Wagner said.

Fritzl also regularly talks about visits from relatives that never happened.

Fritzl pleaded guilty to rape, false imprisonment, manslaughter and incest

Elisabeth lived in this dirty and cramped cellar for 24 years with her children

Daughter Elisabeth has had no contact with her father since he was imprisoned and lives under a new name in an unknown part of Austria with children conceived during the decades when her own father brutally raped her.

Elisabeth disappeared in 1984 at the age of 18 after Fritzl rendered her unconscious with a rag soaked in ether and threw her into his makeshift underground prison.

She did not reappear until April 26, 2008, when she was discovered in a secret cellar under the family home in Amstetten, Austria.

The abuse, which began with Elisabeth being knocked unconscious with a rag soaked in ether, culminated in the birth of seven children, three of whom remained captive with their mother.

One died at the hands of Fritzl, a few days after birth. He disposed of his body in an incinerator.

The other three were raised by Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie.

In 2008, he was arrested on suspicion of incest, rape, false imprisonment and manslaughter after taking Kerstin, Elisabeth’s eldest daughter, to hospital.

After the horrific ordeal came to light, speculation about Rosemary’s involvement ran rampant.

She was never charged and quickly cleared by police after an interview in 2011.

Elisabeth and her children lived in the basement of the family home in Amstetten, while Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie lived above

It turns out that she was never allowed into the cellar where Elisabeth was imprisoned and was unaware of her husband’s crimes.

In March 2009, he pleaded guilty to all counts and was sentenced to life in prison.

Under the terms of his sentence, Fritzl will be eligible for parole this year.

And that seems likely now that a new psychiatric report on his state of mind says the basement monster is no longer dangerous.

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Heidi Kastner, one of Austria’s leading forensic psychiatric experts from the University of Linz, reportedly spent a year preparing her new Fritzl study.

She concluded that the country’s most notorious inmate was no longer a danger and that he was no longer at risk of criminal activity.

Wagner, supported the 28-page report from Kastner, claiming that she would not be afraid to live with him because he had no sex appeal.

The lawyer, 60, told Bild earlier this month: “Fritzl is completely harmless today. I wouldn’t be afraid to move into a shared apartment with him or live in a home with him. He doesn’t feel like sex anymore.’

She told the newspaper that he was staying away from others, except for her and his only friend Alfred U., (/news/article-7007533/Murderer-killed-dismembered-prostitute-using-remains-make-GOULASH-jailed.html ) cannibalistic murderer , who was imprisoned for life for dismembering a Hungarian prostitute and making stew from her body parts.

«He barricades himself in his solitary cell, watches a lot of TV, grows tomatoes, writes about his life as an electrical engineer. He tans through bars, does gymnastics, takes good care of his figure and wants to live to be 100 years old,” said Wagner.

Kastner believes he could be transferred through the normal prison system at Krems-Stein prison as part of the first step to release.

At the very least, it is clear that Kastner believes that, given his age and frailty, there is no reason to keep him in a facility that houses the most dangerous offenders.

However, due to his poor condition, the Kleine Zeitung reports that there are questions about the wisdom of moving him to a new prison due to his poor health.

He is more likely to be transferred to a nursing home, his lawyer said.

The Kleine Zeitung also reports that although he was recorded making frequent rambling remarks, he also talked about having an unknown son.

After 15 years behind bars, the pensioner will be eligible for parole in March

What the newspaper reports could have some basis in fact.

He states that a few months ago Fritzl was contacted by a man from Austria who said he was his father. The report states that Frtizl had an affair with the mother of a man who coincided with the date of birth of the unknown son.

The Zeitung said a DNA test could be carried out to find out the truth.

Court officials declined to comment on the report that Fritzl was allowed to visit local coffee shops in preparation for his release.

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