After seven days: key points from Peter Madsen’s trial

Seven out of twelve days are complete in the trial of Peter Madsen, who is accused of killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall.

After seven days: key points from Peter Madsen’s trial
Copenhagen City Court on March 28th, 2018. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark’s state prosecution has charged Madsen with planning the murder of 30-year-old journalist Wall and killing and mutilating her aboard his home-made submarine, the UC3 Nautilus, on August 10th last year.

The amateur engineer and entrepreneur has admitted to cutting up Wall's body but denies murdering her aboard the vessel.

Here are some of the key points to have emerged during the first half of the trial.

1. Madsen sent SMS to wife from submarine

On Wednesday, Madsen told the court that he sent a text message to his wife from his submarine. The message read, “…on an adventure with Nautilus. Feel good. Sailing in the harbour in moonlight. Not diving. Hugs and kisses to the cats”.

According to the 47-year-old, the text, sent at 11:25pm, was intended as a form of farewell note to his wife. He has said that he planned to commit suicide after disposing of Wall’s body before changing his mind because he wanted to see his wife again.

Asked by prosecuting lawyer Jacob Buch-Jepsen why he was able to send a text to his wife but not call for help, Madsen referred to his previous claims that he was severely emotionally distressed by Wall’s death.

“You must understand my situation at the time,” he said to the prosecution lawyer according to reports from within the court.

Madsen has said that Wall died when the submarine's air pressure suddenly dropped and toxic fumes filled the vessel. He gave detailed technical explanations for this in court on Wednesday.

The submarine owner’s wife has since divorced him, it emerged in court. Madsen said she had asked for the split for “economic reasons”.

2. Gruesome videos

The prosecution on Tuesday showed the judges and reserve judges a number of videos found on the hard drive of Madsen’s computer as well as the recreated profile of his mobile phone, which was not found after Madsen intentionally sank the submarine on August 11th.

These videos, which include an apparently genuine video of a woman being beheaded as well as a number of animations, including of women being impaled, are part of the prosecution’s case. The prosecution aims to present Madsen as a sexual sadist who murdered Kim Wall as part of a sexual fantasy.

Madsen denies being sexually aroused by the videos, saying he watched them because he has a fascination for all things and that he “always took the side of the weaker part”.

The lead judge eventually asked the prosecution not to show any more of the videos, saying they had not been sufficiently sorted and as a result showed similar things. Several journalists present commented specifically on their brutal nature, despite only being able to hear the sound from the films.

Some of the videos were searched for and watched by Madsen in July and August last year in the weeks leading up to the trip with Wall, DR writes in its coverage of the trial.

READ ALSO: Danish court views videos in submarine inventor's trial

3. Other women invited

Buch-Jepsen also tried to prove that Madsen attempted to bring other, ostensibly random, women onto the submarine in the days leading up to August 10th.

One of the witnesses called on Tuesday was a woman who was invited to sail on the submarine on August 8th.

The woman had met Madsen by chance in May 2017 when out walking with a friend on the Refshale island in Copenhagen.

He later added the woman and her friend on Facebook and sent photos of the sub. He called the woman in July, but she didn’t answer. He then sent her an invite by SMS on August 8th. She declined the invitation and said in court that she found it strange that she was invited without her friend, since they had been together the only time she had met Madsen.

4. Witnesses asked about tools on submarine

A noticeable element of the witness testimonies is that Buch-Jepsen consistently asks about the presence of a saw, green hose and straps in the submarine. This forms part of the prosecution’s argument that Wall’s death was planned.

Another key object is a sharpened 50cm-long screwdriver, which Madsen said was on board the submarine for its use as a marker for diving. One of the witnesses told the court it could fulfil that function without being sharpened.

Madsen has said that he took the items into the submarine for practical jobs, such as building a shelf and cleaning. The prosecutor has asked witnesses whether they had previously seen the items in the submarine and whether work such as sawing would not usually have been done in Madsen’s workshop.

A witness for the defence confirmed there were plans to build a shelf in the vessel, but others have said they had not seen the tools in question in the sub, DR reports.

READ ALSO: What we learned from the first day of Peter Madsen's trial in Copenhagen

5. Former girlfriends speak about Madsen’s character

Much of Monday was spent on testimonies from former sexual partners of Madsen, who has been described in a psychological assessment as “perverse and highly sexually deviant.”

None of these witnesses have described the submarine owner as having acted in a threatening or violent manner towards them.

But the court heard he was interested in swing clubs, BDSM and had appeared in pornographic films.

The prosecution is arguing that Madsen was interested in impalement and execution of women due to the material found on his phone and his computer.

A number of text messages sent by Madsen were presented to the court on Monday.

The messages, sent in the months leading up to August 10th last year, were sent between Madsen, one of the witnesses, and a second woman.

The texts show that Madsen and one of the women discussed tying up the second woman in the submarine before doing something “kinky” with her, DR reports.

One of the women wrote to the other on August 11th: “The day before [the submarine trip with Wall, ed.], Peter and me were writing about how we want to make a snuff film with you in the submarine.”

‘Snuff film’ is the term used to describe videos of genuine murders or suicides.

In another message from the correspondence between the three, which was earlier read to the court, Madsen wrote “I’ll pierce you with a skewer”.

The witness stressed that the messages were sent in a context of private jokes and she had not felt threatened.

6. Cause of death not ascertained by investigation

Neither the cause of death nor the motive was established by police, but investigators believe Madsen either strangled Wall or cut her throat.

Examination of her body showed repeated stab wounds in the genital area.

On the third day of the trial, coroner Christina Jacobsen said that Wall’s respiratory tract was “partly or wholly closed off. That can happen in various ways,” DR reported.

A total of 37 witnesses are scheduled to speak in the case, which now has five days remaining and will resume after Easter.

The prosecution has said it will seek a life sentence, which in Denmark averages around 16 years, or safe custody (forvaring in Danish), a legal alternative which would keep him behind bars indefinitely as long as he is deemed dangerous.

A verdict is expected on April 25th.



Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.