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POLICE

Austrian man kept mummified corpse of mother in basement for a year to receive benefits

A man kept the mummified corpse of his mother in a basement in Tyrol for over a year while continuing to receive her pension payments. 

A police car in the city of Vienna, Austria
A police car in Austria. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Austrian police said Thursday they had discovered the body of an 89-year-old woman who died over a year ago and was mummified in the cellar by her son who wanted to continue receiving her benefits.

In a statement, police said the mother, who is believed to have suffered from dementia, had died in June last year.

“The 66-year-old man kept her body in order to continue receiving benefits,” they added. The suspect lived with his mum near Innsbruck in the Tyrol region.

He admitted in questioning that he froze her body with icepacks in the basement after she died, to guard against the smell.

He then wrapped her in bandages to absorb any corporal fluid. “He covered his mother with cat litter and finally the corpse was mummified,” Helmut Gufler, in charge of the police’s social security fraud unit, told public broadcaster ORF.

When his brother came round asking about their mother, he said she was in hospital.

The suspect would get his mum’s benefits by post every month, but a new postman had recently asked to see the beneficiary.

When the son refused, he reported it to the authorities, and the body was discovered on Saturday.

The man pocketed 50,000 euros ($59,000) since June 2020 from the payments.

An autopsy ruled out that he had killed his mother. The suspect is accused of benefit fraud and hiding a corpse.

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CRIME

Austrian Josef Fritzl to be released to ‘normal prison’

Josef Fritzl, was imprisoned in 2009 for the rape and unlawful detention of his daughter in the Austrian village of Amstetten, has been released from psychiatric detention on Wednesday and is set to serve in a standard prison. Fritzl is eligible for early release in 2023.

Austrian Josef Fritzl to be released to ‘normal prison’

When making the decision, the Krems Regional Court held that Fritzl no longer posed any danger and could therefore be kept in a standard jail. 

Fritzl, who changed his name to Mayrhoff while in prison, was jailed in 2009 for several crimes including the unlawful imprisonment and rape of his daughter Elizabeth, who bore him seven children in a specially built soundproof basement. 

One of the children, a boy, died shortly after birth in 1996, upon which Fritzl burnt his body. 

Court spokesman Ferdinand Schuster told Austrian media on Wednesday that the decision was subject to an appeal to the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Vienna. 

Fritzl’s release into the mainstream prison system was decided upon by a three-judge panel under a probation period of ten years. 

The panel made its decision based on a mental health assessment produced in March. 

Fritzl stood trial in 2008 for the crimes, having been deemed sane and therefore faced mainstream charges. 

Fritzl is eligible for release as early as 2023 after receiving a life sentence. 

Austrian media pointed out on Wednesday that a 2023 release would see him serve nine years less than his daughter Elizabeth spent in Josef’s basement dungeon. 

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