Vienna: The man accused of imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering her seven children said he knew his actions were wrong and that he "must have been crazy," according to comments published on Thursday.
Josef Fritzl also said in remarks relayed by his lawyer to the Austrian magazine News that he tried to care for his secret family members, taking flowers, books and stuffed toys to them in the dingy dungeon below his home in the town of Amstetten.
The lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, confirmed that Fritzl made the remarks from a prison in the city of St Poelten, where he is being held in pretrial detention.
"I constantly knew, over the entire 24 years, that what I did was not right, that I must have been crazy because I did something like this," Fritzl was quoted as saying.
The case came to light last month, and 73-year-old Fritzl has since confessed to locking up his daughter Elisabeth in 1984, repeatedly raping her and fathering her seven children. Fritzl met for the first time with a prosecutor on Wednesday.
"I tried as best I could to care for my family in the cellar," Fritzl said in the published comments.
"When I went into the bunker, I brought my daughter flowers and my children books and stuffed animals," Fritzl said, adding he would watch adventure videos with the children while Elisabeth cooked their favourite meals. "And then we'd all sit at the kitchen table and eat together," he said.
Fritzl's double life began to disintegrate when Elisabeth's oldest child, a 19-year-old woman, was hospitalised with a severe infection in Amstetten, west of Vienna.
Doctors, unable to find medical records for the woman, appealed on television for her mother to come forward. Fritzl accompanied Elisabeth to the hospital on April 26. He later told police that he had fathered seven children with Elisabeth.
In other comments published by News, Fritzl said he grew up an only child in "humble circumstances" and that his mother, whom he "admired very much," threw his father out of the house when he was four.
Only man in the house
"She was the boss at home, and I the only man in the house," Fritzl said of his mother.
Fritzl also said he considered good behaviour and decency important, and that Elisabeth had stopped following rules when she hit puberty. After locking her up, Fritzl said he repeatedly thought about letting her go but was scared about being arrested and having people find out what he had done.
"With every week that I held my daughter, my situation got crazier ... it's true, I thought repeatedly about whether I should let her go or not," he said.