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Danish inventor's version of Swedish journalist murder disputed

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Danish inventor's version of Swedish journalist murder disputed
The trial has had significant media attention. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
07:04 CET+01:00
The trial of Danish submarine builder Peter Madsen, accused of murdering and mutilating Swedish journalist Kim Wall, resumes Wednesday as prosecutors dispute his account that she died accidentally aboard his vessel.

Madsen, 47, said at the opening of his trial on March 8 that Wall, a 30-year-old freelancer, died when the air pressure suddenly dropped and toxic fumes filled the submarine.

He has admitted to dismembering Wall's body and throwing it overboard but denies murdering her aboard the sub where she went to interview him on August 10, 2017.

The eccentric and well-known figure in Denmark told the Copenhagen district court on the opening day that the air pressure suddenly dropped inside the vessel where Wall was located while he was up on deck.

An autopsy was unable to determine the cause of death, nor has a motive been established.

But Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen alleged he killed her as part of a sexual fantasy. He said evidence showed Madsen bound Wall around the head, arms and legs before beating her and stabbing her repeatedly in her genital area.

READ ALSO: Inventor says Swedish journalist died from toxic fumes on sub

Prosecutors say he then killed her --  probably by strangling or slitting her throat -- and cut her up with a saw, stuffing her torso, head, arms and legs in separate bags weighed down with metal objects, and dumping them in Koge Bay off Copenhagen.

"I and the defence lawyer will interrogate him all day",  Buch-Jepsen told AFP ahead of Wednesday's hearing which is to start at 0830 GMT.

Thirty-five experts and witnesses are also expected to speak in the Copenhagen district court to evaluate the credibility of Madsen's accident scenario and help understand the psychology of the self-taught engineer, described by the prosecution as "a perverted polymorph, and highly sexually deviant".

'Beheaded girl'

Madsen has admitted he had lied to investigators and changed his account of what actually happened to Wall several times.

"I wanted to spare her family and the world the details ... about what actually happened when she died, because it is gruesome."

The 14 stab wounds on Wall's genitals provide a key insight into Madsen's seemingly contradictory statements surrounding the cause of her death.

"It's important in connection with the sentence," Henrik Stevnsborg, professor of law at University of Copenhagen, told AFP.

Investigators never found Wall's or Madsen's phones, but were able to recreate some of the messages on them.

On the morning of August 10, Madsen "googled 'beheaded girl a(r)gony' which leads to a video of an unidentified young woman who is slowly having her throat cut," the prosecutor said.

On July 26, he also googled "female beheading" and watched the videos.

'Still alive'

Wall, who criss-crossed the world in search of unique and quirky stories, was reported missing by her boyfriend after she failed to return home from the trip on the 60-foot (18-metre) vessel.

On a large screen in the courtroom, the prosecutor showed a series of text messages Wall sent her boyfriend from inside the vessel.

"I'm still alive btw (by the way)," she wrote, adding: "But going down now!" and "I love you!!!!!!"

The prosecution has said it will seek a life sentence, which in Denmark averages around 16 years or safe custody, a legal alternative which would keep him behind bars with no time limit as long as he would be deemed dangerous.

The trial is expected to last 11 more days and a verdict is expected on April 25.

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