Kim Wall death: Danish inventor Peter Madsen denies murder | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 08.03.2018
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Kim Wall death: Danish inventor Peter Madsen denies murder

On the opening day of his trial for the murder of the Swedish journalist, Madsen claimed she died when exhaust fumes filled his submarine. He admitted to dismembering her body and disposing of it at sea.

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Submarine inventor goes on trial for murder of journalist

Danish inventor Peter Madsen denied the charge at Copenhagen's City Court on Thursday that he committed the gruesome murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his self-made submarine last August.

The 47-year-old testified that Wall died when the air pressure suddenly dropped inside the vessel. He claimed he was on deck at the time and unable to open the hatch door as exhaust fumes filled the vessel.

Wall's account of the death of the 30-year-old journalist has changed over the months.  

The details of the case:

  • Witnesses last saw Wall as she left on Madsen's submarine from Copenhagen harbor on the evening of August 10.
  • She had been planning to interview Madsen, a well-known figure in Denmark, aboard his vessel.
  • A day later, Madsen was rescued after his 18-meter (60-foot) submarine sank near Copenhagen. Rescuers found no trace of Kim Wall at the time.
  • Wall's headless torso was later found in plastic bags on the Baltic Sea bed; it had been stabbed multiple times.
  • Police arrested Madsen for negligent manslaughter on August 12 and said the submarine was deliberately scuttled.
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DNA from torso matches Wall's - police

The charges: Madsen was formally charged with premeditated murder, dismemberment and aggravated sexual assault in mid-January.

What the prosecutors say: Prosecutors accused Madsen of beating, binding and cutting Wall on board the submarine. Madsen is charged with dismembering Wall's body after she died. He is suspected of putting her body parts in plastic bags and throwing them into the sea. Prosecutors also say Madsen tried to weigh the bags down with steel pipes. 

The prosecution claims Wall's murder was premeditated because Madsen brought along tools he normally did not take when sailing: a saw, knife, screwdrivers, plastic strips and metal pipes  — evidence, the prosecution has said, that proves Madsen had planned the murder.

Madsen's stories: Initially, Madsen claimed to have dropped Wall off at Copenhagen harbor the night before the vessel sank. At the beginning of September, he said Wall had died after a hatch hit her on the head aboard his submarine and that he then dumped her intact body overboard. Forensics, however, showed no fractures on Wall's skull. He later said she had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. In October, he admitted to dismembering Wall before throwing her body parts into the sea , but denied murdering her.

 "I didn't tell the truth as I didn't want the world to know the awful circumstances of Wall's death," Madsen said Thursday.

Peter Madsen (Imago/N. Hougaard )

Peter Madsen was a well-known figure in Denmark before his arrest

What could be the motive? Prosecutors have not said what motivated Madsen to commit the crimes. They portrayed Madsen as an intelligent man but added that he had "psychopathic tendencies" and accused him of   fantasizing about torturing and killing women. Police found a hard drive in his workshop with films depicting women being tortured, burnt alive and decapitated. Madsen denied the hard drive was his.

Who was Kim Wall? Wall was a freelance reporter 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. She had been planning on moving to China with her boyfriend after the interview with Madsen.

Who is Peter Madsen? Nicknamed "Rocket Madsen," the engineer was born in Copenhagen and became well-known in Denmark for building space rockets and the world's largest self-built submarine in 2008.  He was a co-founder of Copenhagen Suborbitals, a private aerospace consortium that launched a 9-meter rocket 8 kilometers into the sky over the Baltic Sea in 2011.

How long will the trial last: The court is expected to deliver a verdict on April 25. A judge and two lay jurors are to hear testimonies from more than 30 witnesses.

UC3 Nautilus submarine

Madsen had built the submarine that he and Wall left Copenhagen harbor in on August 10

amp,jm/sms (dpa, AFP)

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