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.



Attacker ‘severely disturbed’ during stabbing at Swedish political festival

Theodor Engström, the 33-year-old man who stabbed psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren to death at the Almedalen political festival in July, was seriously psychiatrically disturbed at the time of his attack, forensic psychiatrists have ruled.

Attacker 'severely disturbed' during stabbing at Swedish political festival

According to the Hela Gotland newspaper the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine has ruled that the man was so disturbed at the time of his attack he had lost the ability to understand the consequences of his actions, and has as a result recommended that he be given psychiatric treatment rather than a prison term.

The agency said that Engström had still been disturbed at the time he was given psychiatric assessment, and warned that there was a risk that Engström would commit further criminal acts. 

“This is a question which has relevance at a future stage,” said prosecutor Henrik Olin. “It means he cannot be sentenced to jail, but will instead receive psychiatric care. But it is not going to change how the investigation is carried out.” 

READ ALSO: What do we know about the Almedalen knife attack?

Engström stabbed Wieselgren, who worked as psychiatric coordinator for the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, as she was on the way to take part on a discussion at the Almedalen political festival. She died in hospital later that day. 

Engström has admitted to carrying out the attack, telling police that he intended to make a protest against the state of psychiatric healthcare in Sweden.