VIENNA, Austria - An Austrian man accused of imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering her seven children is expected to go on trial before the end of the year.

Franz Cutka, a spokesman for a national court in St. Poelten in Lower Austria province, says preparations for the trial are going "at full speed." He says the case will likely be heard beginning in the fall or this winter.

Prosecutors say Fritzl has confessed to holding his daughter captive in a cell beneath his apartment in the town of Amstetten, west of Vienna.

Authorities say DNA tests have confirmed Fritzl is the father of six of his daughter's children. Fritzl has said he tossed the body of the seventh into a furnace after it died in infancy.

Fritzl remains in detention in St. Poelten, 80 kilometres west of Vienna.

His alleged victims - including Elisabeth, the 42-year-old daughter investigators say he imprisoned when she was 18 - are getting counselling.

Prosecutors are expected to begin interviewing Fritzl's wife, Elisabeth and the children next month, Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported Tuesday.

Fritzl's lawyer will be given an opportunity to ask Elisabeth questions via a video hookup, and footage of the questioning will be presented during the trial, Cutka said.

Fritzl is expected to be formally charged after authorities wrap up their investigation, officials said.

Fritzl and his wife raised three of the children he fathered with his daughter after Fritzl claimed Elisabeth left them at the doorstep of the family's home. Authorities say the other three were confined underground.

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