Danish inventor Peter Madsen charged with journalist’s murder: prosecutors

Danish prosecutors on Tuesday formally charged inventor Peter Madsen with last year's murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, whose dismembered body parts were found at sea after she interviewed him on his homemade submarine.

Danish inventor Peter Madsen charged with journalist's murder: prosecutors
Peter Madsen's UC3 Nautilus submarine. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Scanpix Denmark

Madsen, who was arrested and detained shortly after Wall's disappearance in August, has admitted dismembering her body and dumping it at sea but has denied intentionally killing her.

The prosecution will ask for a sentence of life imprisonment, Copenhagen Police confirmed.

A secondary claim for safe custody (forvaring in Danish) will also be made based on a Danish Medical Legal Council psychiatric assessment of Madsen, according to the police statement.

“This is a very unusual and extremely brutal case which has had tragic consequences for Kim Wall and her relatives. The interest in the case has been enormous. However, we hope the media will respect that further evidence in the case must be presented in court and not in the press,” Copenhagen Police special prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen said.

Madsen's trial will begin on March 8th, charged with premeditated murder as well as dismemberment and “sexual relations other than intercourse of a particularly dangerous nature”, prosecutors said.

They said it was not known exactly how Wall died, “but the homicide could have taken place by cutting of the throat or strangulation”.

The murder was committed “with prior planning and preparation”, according to the police indictment.

In a tragic case that shocked the public, the remains of 30-year-old Wall were found in Køge Bay off Copenhagen, weighed down by metal objects, after she vanished while interviewing Madsen on his submarine on August 10th.

Prosecutors have previously said they believe Madsen may have killed Wall as part of a sexual fantasy. Madsen has denied any sexual relations with Wall.

The 30-year-old Swedish journalist worked as a freelance writer based in New York and China, and her articles were published in The Guardian, The New York Times and others.

After intentionally sinking his submarine early on August 11th in Køge Bay, some 50 kilometres off the Danish capital, Madsen was picked up by a rescue vessel and initially told police he had dropped Wall off on land after their interview the previous evening.

He then went on to change his version of events several times.

A 46-year-old self-taught engineer, Madsen is an eccentric and relatively well-known figure in Denmark.

His homemade submarine Nautilus, launched in 2008, was the biggest private sub ever made when he built it with help from a group of volunteers.

In Tuesday's press statement, police also confirmed charges of severe violation of the Act on Safety at Sea against Madsen.

In the indictment, the prosecution claims the inventor's submarine should be confiscated and scrapped.



Why Copenhagen police say crime is on the up in Christiania

Crime in Copenhagen’s hippie enclave of Christiania is increasing, police in the capital say following a number of drugs-related arrests.

Why Copenhagen police say crime is on the up in Christiania

Copenhagen Police arrested three men on Saturday for selling cannabis on Pusher Street in the alternative enclave of Christiania, as they continue their efforts to stamp out the area’s former open-air cannabis market. 

According to police, 875 people were arrested for selling cannabis in the first 11 months of 2022, more than in any other year over the past four years. 

A possible explanation for the increase in arrests could be that the rewards for operating hash stands have receded, according to a police spokesperson.

“It is extremely unattractive to stand out there, and therefore a lot of new people come in who have no idea what it is all about. Many of them come from outside the catchment area, and some of them are peripherally associated with a criminal group,” Simon Hansen, head of a Copenhagen Police special unit, told newspaper Politiken.

“It’s a bit – in inverted commas – ‘easier’ for us to catch these people,” he said. 

Around half of the stalls in the street are linked to various gangs and biker gangs, such as Satudarah, Bandidos, Hells Angels and Loyal To Familia, with the rest run by people living in Christiania, the Berlingske newspaper reported earlier this month.

The trend of rising crime occurs against a background of potential housing develop in Christiania, as the enclave’s residents decide on a plan to put affordable housing in the area.

Copenhagen Police last year told news wire Ritzau that the majority of people who are arrested within Christiania come from socially underprivileged or marginalised backgrounds.

They are exploited in gang and biker circles, resulting in them in some cases operating the illicit hash market stalls, according to the police.

Conflicts between organised crime groups have reportedly become more frequently aired in the Pusher Street market.

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