Danish submarine owner detained over Swedish journalist's death

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish submarine owner detained over Swedish journalist's death
Composite: Nautilus being raised from waters off Copenhagen. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix; Kim Wall. Photo: Tom Wall/Helsingborgs Dagblad/Scanpix

A Danish inventor and owner of a huge private submarine has been remanded in custody for 24 days after the disappearance of a female journalist who had been on board before it sank.


The submarine owner, entrepreneur Peter Madsen, who was arrested on Friday on suspicion of killing the woman by unknown means, denies the charge, saying he last saw her when he dropped her off on an island near Copenhagen late on Thursday.

Police decided to charge Madsen on suspicion of causing the death of the missing Swedish woman, Copenhagen Police confirmed in a statement on Friday evening.

The identity of the woman emerged on Saturday as 30-year-old New York and Beijing-based journalist Kim Wall, after her family contacted Danish broadcaster TV2.

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and Swedish tabloid Expressen, along with newspaper Dagens Nyheter all also reported that Wall was the missing woman.

"It was with great horror that we were informed that Kim is missing. We believe and sincerely hope that she is found safe and sound," the 30-year-old's family wrote in a statement to TV2.

The Nautilus becomes visible over the water line as it is raised south of the island of Amager near Copenhagen. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

Danish authorities announced early Friday they were looking for the Nautilus sub, reported to have gone missing the night before in the Öresund strait between Denmark and Sweden.

TV2 reports that Wall was last seen on board the vessel when it left the Refshaleøen island off Copenhagen on Thursday evening.

According to Denmark's military command centre (Forsvarets Operationscenter), the alarm that the craft was missing was raised at 2:30am on Friday by the partner of the Swedish woman.

The vessel – the biggest privately-made sub ever made when built in 2008 – was located in a bay in Køge, some 50 kilometres from the Danish capital, at around 10:30 on Friday morning.

Radio contact was then made and Madsen said that he was setting course to Copenhagen, police confirmed in a statement.

But the submarine sank at around 11:00am.

After the sub was found, Madsen alone was brought to shore on board a private boat. The submarine owner then reported that his passenger had left the vessel on Thursday evening. Police immediately launched a search.

Peter Madsen speaks to police shortly after being rescued from the sinking submarine on Friday. Photo: Bax Lindthardt/Scanpix

READ ALSO: Swedish woman still missing as Denmark sends divers to stricken sub

“Divers have today been at the submarine, which is in seven-metre deep water. It has not been possible to gain access to the submarine, since it must either be stabilised where it is or salvaged and towed to port for this to be possible. This will probably take place during [Saturday] morning,” police said on Friday.

"The owner of the submarine was arrested and is accused of having killed the Swedish woman without intent," the police statement said.

"He denies the allegations and explains that he left the woman on the end of the Refshaleøen island" at around 10:30pm, the statement continues.

Madsen was remanded in custody for 24 days by Copenhagen City Court on Saturday afternoon, reports TV2.

The submarine could be seen above the water line as a salvage team began raising it on Saturday.

Copenhagen Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward as they began investigation into the course of events involving the submarine.

“We would like to make contact with witnesses who have either seen the submarine with the two persons leave the harbour around 19:00 or have observed the submarine and its crew approach the tip of Refshaleøen at around 22:30. We would additionally like to speak with possible witnesses that may have seen the Swedish woman after 22:30 on Thursday evening. Out of consideration to the further investigation of this case, we have nothing to add at this stage,” deputy chief inspector Jens Møller Jensen said in the police statement issued Friday evening.

Meanwhile, the owner of a restaurant on the Refshaleøen island told the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet that security camera footage from his premises existed.

Such footage may help to show whether or not Wall returned to land after leaving on board the submarine.

"We have video surveillance over our entire area. We hope that it can help solve this little mystery," the restaurant owner, Bo Petersen, told Ekstra Bladet.

Petersen told the newspaper that Copenhagen Police had contacted him to ask whether his restaurant had security cameras, something the restaurant owner was able to confirm.

Although he has watched the recording, Petersen said that he would prefer to leave assessment of it to police.

"I don't want to say anything about [who can be seen on the video]. I'll leave it up to police to answer that," he said.

Submarine disappearance timeline: What we know so far

Thursday 7pm: The submarine, crewed by its owner Peter Madsen and a Swedish journalist, sails from the Refshaleøen island harbour near Copenhagen.

Thursday 8:30pm: Denmark military authorities receive a message from a cruise ship that observed the submarine sail out of Copenhagen Harbour, according to a DR report.

Friday 2:30am: The partner of the Swedish woman reports that the craft is missing. The Danish Defence Command (Værnsfælles Forsvarskommando) begins searching for the submarine.

Friday 10:30am: The submarine is sighted in Køge Bay. Radio contact is made and the owner says he is setting course to Copenhagen, and that the submarine has technical problems.

Friday 11:00am: The owner is recovered by a private boat, but there is no sign of the second crew member. The owner is sailed to land at Dragør Harbour.

Friday afternoon: Police in Sweden state that a missing person alert issued during the morning pertains to the woman on board the submarine and remains in place, reports Swedish news agency TT.

Friday 5:44pm: Copenhagen police announce through a press statement that the owner of the Nautilus has been charged over the woman’s death. Police divers have located the sunken submarine but have not yet gained access to it.

Saturday afternoon: Madsen is remanded in custody for 24 days by Copenhagen City Court as work to raise the submarine begins and the identity of the woman emerges as journalist Kim Wall, after her family contacts Danish media.



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