Danish inventor sentenced to life in prison for murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall | News | DW | 25.04.2018
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Danish inventor sentenced to life in prison for murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall

A Danish court has found submarine builder Peter Madsen guilty of murdering Swedish journalist Kim Wall. He was accused of killing and dismembering Wall on his submarine last year.

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Peter Madsen found guilty of murdering Kim Wall

A court in Copenhagen sentenced 47-year-old inventor Peter Madsen to life in prison for killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall on board his submarine last year.

Peter Madsen exits a court in Copenhagen in 2017 (Imago/Imago/M. Kenneth)

Madsen admitted to dismembering Wall, but denied killing her

The judge and two lay jurors found Madsen guilty of premeditated murder and sexual assault. The panel found that Madsen's accounts of Wall's death were not credible, saying he didn't give a "trustworthy" explanation.

Wall was last seen on August 10 on Madsen's self-built submarine in Copenhagen harbor, where she intended to interview the inventor for a story. Madsen was rescued a day later after the submarine sank, but there was no sign of Wall. Her decapitated torso and other body parts were later retrieved in the Bay of Koge near Copenhagen.

Madsen admitted to dismembering the 30-year-old reporter and disposing of her remains in the waters off Copenhagen, but changed his story several times concerning the circumstances of her death.

The 47-year-old is the 15th person in 10 years to be given a life sentence in Denmark. Life sentences in the Nordic country last 16 years, but can be extended.

Peter Madsen (picture-alliance/dpa/AP/Ritzau Foto/Hougaard Niels)

Witnesses testified that Madsen was fascinated with death and sexual fantasies

Gruesome case

During the trial, Madsen described himself to the court as a "psychopath, but a loving one."

Prosecutors painted a different picture. They argued that Madsen killed Wall as part of a sexual fantasy and that he had videos on his computer hard drive depicting women being tortured and decapitated.

They further argued that the killing was premeditated, as Madsen brought along tools he normally did not take when sailing, including: a saw, knife, screwdrivers, plastic strips and metal pipes. 

"It's been shown by the psychiatric evaluation which says the accused is a pathological liar" and "a danger to others," prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen told the court.

Danish inventor Peter Madsen sailing in the harbor of Copenhagen on his self-built submarine (Reuters/P. Thompsen)

Madsen initially claimed Wall was killed by the submarine's hatch and later said she died due to toxic fumes on board the vessel

Madsen initially told authorities that he dropped Wall off on dry land before the submarine sank. He then claimed that the reporter died after the vessel's hatch hit her on the head. An autopsy later revealed that there were no fractures on Wall's skull.

In the end, the 47-year-old testified that Wall died when a drop in air pressure caused toxic fumes to fill the vessel while he was on deck and she was below. 

Madsen's defense attorney Betina Hald Engmark had argued that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to prove that he was guilty of murder or sexual assault.

Wall was an award-winning freelance journalist who had reported from many countries, including the US, China and Cuba. She was born in Trelleborg in southern Sweden and studied at the London School of Economics in London and Columbia University in New York.

rs/jl (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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Submarine inventor goes on trial for murder of journalist

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