Austrian rapist Josef Fritzl spent the first night of a life behind bars under close suicide watch but appears to be "somewhat relieved" that his trial is over, a prison official said today.

Fritzl was sentenced to a life term yesterday for the murder of one of the seven children he fathered by his own daughter, Elisabeth, whom he kept as a sex-slave in a basement dungeon for 24 years.

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The 73-year-old retired electrical engineer was also found guilty of incest, rape, sequestration, enslavement and coercion after a four-day trial which turned an uncomfortably bright spotlight onto Austria.

Fritzl is due to be transferred to a mental institution where he may well spend the rest of his days, hidden away from public view, but still remains in the St Pölten prison where he has spent the past year since his abuse was uncovered.

Many Austrians are eager to turn the page on the entire story — none more so than the people of Amstetten, the small town in Lower Austria where Fritzl lived his astonishing double life.

"It’s not going to be over for a long time. I think it’s only just starting," said an elderly woman said as she passed the Fritzl home. "There will be bus tours to Fritzl’s house, and we will then all make pilgrimages" to see the Fritzl family, currently housed in a psychiatric institute.

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