In Brief

Peter Madsen guilty of murder: five key moments from trial

Danish inventor set to appeal sentence of life in prison without parole

Danish inventor Peter Madsen has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his home-built submarine.

Judge Anette Burko and two jurors found Peter Madsen, 47, guilty of all three of the main charges of premeditated murder, aggravated sexual assault and desecrating a corpse, reports the BBC.

“The court has been unanimous in coming to this result,” Burko said. “There is clear evidence that the accused has shown an interest in killing and dismembering people.”

Burko dismissed Madsen's claim that 30-year-old Wall died in an accident, saying: “The explanation is not credible and is not consistent with the following decision to dismember the body.”

Madsen's crimes were committed in an especially “serious and brutal manner to a randomly chosen woman, who had accepted his offer to go on a trip in the submarine", she said

Madsen’s lawyer told the court that the inventor would appeal the verdict.

The case “has gripped Denmark and Sweden, with at least six newspapers and broadcasters live-blogging every minute of the trial”, says The Observer.

Here are five key moments:

Madsen was into snuff films

After searching his computer, police found multiple videos of people being murdered, according to The Copenhagen Post. Madsen’s top three porn search words were “throat”, “girl” and “pain”, the newspaper reports.

“His preferred method of torture, it would appear, includes a woman being mistreated with a knife, fire or a spear,” the Post adds.

Several hours before Wall boarded the submarine on 10 August, Madsen googled “beheaded girl agony” - an action that he claims was “pure coincidence”, the court heard.

Lawyer Mette Grith Stage, who has defended some of Denmark’s most high-profile murderers, told The Observer that the defence faced “an uphill struggle”. “It doesn’t make it any easier when he has all this material on his computer,” she said.

Madsen changed his story multiple times

Over the course of the investigation, Madsen’s story has repeatedly changed. He first claimed that he returned Wall to land alive and well, then that she died when a heavy hatch fell on her head, and finally that she died of accidental asphyxiation.

Madsen told the court that he had lied initially in order to protect Wall’s family from the details of the death.

“In a case like this where you don’t have any witnesses, it’s very important that the defendant is trustworthy, and he was in the beginning,” says Stage. “But every time the police came up with something new, he had to make a new explanation, and this has happened so many times that he’s not trustworthy any more.”

Madsen invited another woman on board the sub before Wall

One witness testified that Madsen invited her onto his submarine soon after they met by chance back in May 2017.

The witness, whose identity was not revealed, told the court that she declined, but that he contacted her again online to repeat the invitation on 8 August - two days before he allegedly murdered Wall. “I thought it was a little odd that he wrote to me,” she said. “If it had been my submarine, I would not have invited me when I didn’t answer the first time.”

This makes Madsen “appear as if he was actively trying to lure a female victim to his boat and serves to bolster the prosecution’s theory of premeditation”, says The Cut magazine.

Madsen’s “worrying” description of Wall’s dismemberment

The Danish inventor admitted dismembering the Swedish journalist using “what was around” in his submarine.

Madsen described cutting up the body as an “insane situation” during questioning by the prosecution.

He said Wall was dismembered in the bathroom on board his submarine, telling the court: “It’s something so horrible that I do not want to go into detail. I will just say that it was horrible.”

Describing Madsen’s description of the dismemberment as “worrying”, a report by court psychiatrists said that he “showed ‘a severe lack of empathy and remorse’, and was ‘extremely untrustworthy’ and a ‘pathological liar’”.

The prosecution remains unsure on how Wall died

Madsen’s defence lawyer tried to capitalise on the prosecution's inability to determine exactly how Wall died.

Coroner Christina Jacobsen told the court that there was “no conclusive evidence to prove the cause of death beyond doubt”, owing to the amount of time the body was submerged in water.

“It is not my client's duty to prove that he is innocent. It is the task of the prosecutor to prove that he is guilty,” Engmark told the court, arguing that the prosecution details were “not based on facts”.

Engmark also highlighted the testimony of Kim Winther, an expert witness from the Danish Technological Institute, who told the court that Madsen’s account of the accident was technically “plausible”. The defence lawyer also “questioned the claim made by a submarine expert that traces of carbon monoxide or soot would necessarily have been found in the submarine and its filters if his account was true”, says The Observer.

 
05 April

Peter Madsen murder trial: inventor wrote blog posts about stabbing women

Danish inventor Peter Madsen wrote blog posts about stabbing women at around the time of Swedish journalist Kim Wall’s death on his submarine, it has been revealed in court.

Madsen denies murdering Wall, although he has admitted dismembering and disposing of her body following her death, which he claims was an accident.

A female witness who testified “behind closed doors” said that Madsen had sent her a link to a post he had written titled Himmel og Helvede, or “Heaven and Hell”, which he described as “an entrance to my head”, reports Sky News’s Julie Thomsen. 

The court heard excerpts from the blog, in which the 47-year-old inventor wrote: “If you feel angry with your boss, stick a knife in her back. Why hesitate, she will not be missed by anyone... bow to your anger, use your knife.”

Madsen also had more than 40 video clips, “including animated and so-called snuff films, of women being impaled, hanged and beheaded on his laptop”, the prosecution said.

“Other hard disks belonging to him contained around 100 videos or links to videos containing murders, torture, beheading and sexually motivated impalements,” reports Swedish news site The Local.

The night before the 30-year-old Wall boarded his submarine to interview him for a story last August, Madsen had watched a video on his iPhone entitled “Young woman in pain as she’s slowly beheaded with a small knife”.

The court also heard that a psychologist who assessed Madsen found him to be “strikingly lightly affected by Wall’s death”, and that the inventor had “expressed no remorse or guilt in connection with the events”.

In a further blow to his case, the prosecution argued that the blood stains on Madsen’s boiler suit were not consistent with his argument that he dismembered Wall’s body after her death.

Today was the final day of evidence in his trial before the prosecution and the defence make their closing statements.

28 March

Peter Madsen murder trial: inventor texted 'hugs to the cats' minutes after Kim Wall's death

Danish inventor Peter Madsen has told how he texted his ex-wife 20 minutes after Swedish journalist Kim Wall died in his submarine.

On the seventh day of his trial, the court heard thatat 11.25pm on the night of the alleged murder, Madsen sent a text to his wife that said: 

“I'm on a little adventure with Nautilus [his submarine] and doing well. Sailing in the moonlight. Not diving. Hugs to the cats."

When questioned about the message, Madsen told the court:

“I thought [my ex] was waiting for me and therefore I wanted to write something to her. I knew she would be nervous. I couldn’t think about much other than the disaster on the submarine.”

Madsen's ex-wife visited him in the prison to finalise their divorce, but “since then, they have not had any contact”, Swedish newspaper Expressen reports.

The court also heard how Madsen had texted another woman that he “had a murder plan ready” and that she “should be tied up on the Nautilus”.

The inventor insisted he was just teasing the woman, with whom he was having a sexual relationship, and that “no reasonable person" would think he would actually carry out the acts described, according to Swedish news website GP.

Madsen told the court about the moment when he realised Wall had died, from what he claims was accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Madsen denies murdering Wall, although he has admitted dismembering and disposing of her body after her death, which he says was an accident.

23 March

Peter Madsen invited woman on to submarine two days before Kim Wall’s death 

 

Two women have claimed in court that Peter Madsen asked them aboard the submarine on which he allegedly killed Swedish journalist Kim Wall.

Others testifying on the sixth day of the murder trial in Copenhagen said that Madsen spoke about the best place to hide a corpse.

Prosecutors questioned the two women who said that the Danish inventor had also invited them on to the homemade vessel he called UC3 Nautilus, Kvallsposten reports.

The first said she had been asked to join him on the submarine at the end of June. She worked as a volunteer at his workshop and had already been aboard several times.

The second woman said she had declined Madsen’s invitation on to the submarine when they first met in May 2017.

On 8 August, two days before Kim Wall joined Madsen on the sea, the witness received a message from the 47-year-old repeating the invitation.

“I thought it was a little odd that he wrote to me,” the witness told the court. “If it had been my submarine, I would not have invited me when I didn’t answer the first time.”

A male witness who knew Madsen through the crowdfunded space programme Copenhagen Suborbitals, described a conversation they had ten years ago in which Madsen called Kogebukten bay, south of Copenhagen, “a good place” to hide a body. His fascination with getting rid of corpses was confirmed by the fourth witness who said that they had “talked a bit about it”.

Madsen denies murdering Wall, although he has admitted dismembering and disposing of her body after he death, which he claims was an accident (see below).

 
23 March

Submarine death: more grisly details emerge in Kim Wall murder trial

The third day of the trial of Peter Madsen, the  inventor accused of murdering freelance journalist Kim Wall aboard his homemade submarine, saw a coroner testify that Wall was either strangled or had her throat cut. The 30-year-old did not die in an accident as Madsen claims.

The inventor, who is 47, is currently on trial accused of torturing and killing the journalist when she visited him alone on his submarine in August of last year. The submarine sent out a distress call and Madsen was rescued from the water between Denmark and Sweden shortly after the submarine set sail. Wall’s dismembered body later washed up on the shore near Copenhagen.

Madsen insists that Wall’s death was an accident. He has also admitted to dismembering her body and stabbing it after her death, despite having originally told rescuers that he had dropped her ashore alive hours earlier.

Coroner Christina Jacobsen told the Copenhagen district court there was “no conclusive evidence to prove the cause of death beyond doubt” due to the amount of time the body was submerged in water, the Copenhagen Post writes. 

However, Jacobsen added: “What we think happened is that the airways were totally or partially cut off. That would be due to either strangulation, throat cutting or drowning.”

On the first day of his trial on 8 March, Madsen claimed that Wall had died when the air pressure “suddenly dropped and toxic fumes filled his vessel” while he was up on deck, The Local writes. 

But an autopsy report on Wall’s lungs concluded there were “no signs of exhaust gases in the tissue”.

Yesterday, the hearing saw the victim’s partner tell the court he had considered accompanying his girlfriend on the vessel. He said she had told him that she was “afraid to go on the trip in a submarine”.

 
21 March
Peter Madsen describes ‘horrible’ and ‘insane’ dismembering of Kim Wall

The Danish inventor on trial over the murder of Kim Wall has admitted dismembering the Swedish journalist using “what was around” in his submarine.

Madsen described cutting up the body as an “insane situation” during questioning by a prosecutor at Copenhagen Crown Court.

He said Wall was dismembered in the bathroom on board his submarine, telling the court: “It’s something so horrible that I do not want to go into detail. I will just say that it was horrible.”

Madsen has been accused of sexually assaulting, torturing and murdering Wall after she joined him aboard his home-built submarine for an interview last August.

The 47-year-old faces charges including murder, dismemberment and “sexual relations other than intercourse of a particularly dangerous nature”.

Madsen, who denies killing Wall, claims she died accidentally inside his submarine while he was on deck.

Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen told the court that a psychiatric report had found the accused to be an intelligent man with “psychopathic tendencies” including “no empathy or feelings of guilt”.

Detectives “found videos and texts about killing women on Madsen’s laptop and an external hard drive”, says The Independent.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the “self-taught engineer was defiant” as Buch-Jepsen read back to him a statement he had given to the police, in which he described how the 1995 film Se7en, about a serial killer, had sprung to mind as he dismembered the body.

“I don’t think that there’s anything unnatural in that remark,” Madsen told the court. “In that film, there is a scene where a person’s head is cut off.”

Asked about stab wounds on Wall’s body, Madsen claimed they were inflicted randomly and that there were no sexual motives behind it, according to Danish state broadcaster DR Nyheder.

“I pierced certain parts of her body because I did not want them to be inflated by gas," he said, adding that “there was nothing erotic in those blows”.

Madsen told the court he tried to protect Wall’s family from the details of the death by initially lying and saying that she had died after she was hit by a submarine hatch.

In Denmark, “murder typically carries a jail sentence of 12 years”, says Sky News. However, in certain cases, it is “possible for a convicted murderer to remain in custody for life if he or she is deemed too dangerous to be released”.

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