Verdict due in trial of Danish inventor accused of journalist’s murder

The trial of a Danish inventor accused of murdering a journalist aboard his self-built submarine is due to wrap up this week with a verdict due by Wednesday at the earliest.

Verdict due in trial of Danish inventor accused of journalist's murder
A police vehicle at Copenhagen City Court on April 23rd. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT/Ritzau Scanpix

Peter Madsen, 47 — who is accused of premeditated murder, aggravated sexual assault and desecrating a corpse — has repeatedly changed his version of events since his arrest last August, a day after Swedish freelance journalist Kim Wall boarded his submarine to interview the eccentric self-taught engineer and semi-celebrity.

Madsen has since admitted dismembering Wall, 30, and throwing her body parts into the sea but denies killing her.

Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen and defence lawyer Betina Hald Engmark are due to present their final arguments on Monday, with the judge issuing a verdict no earlier than Wednesday.

The trial at Copenhagen's district court earlier heard evidence that Madsen had more than 40 video clips, including animated and so-called snuff films of women being impaled, hanged and beheaded on his laptop.

The prosecution says Madsen tortured and murdered Wall as part of a sexual fantasy.

It 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 indefinitely as long as he is deemed dangerous.

READ ALSO: After seven days: key points from Peter Madsen's trial

Madsen initially claimed he had dropped Wall off on dry land in Copenhagen on the night of August 10th, 2017, but he later changed his story, claiming that a heavy hatch door had fallen on her head and killed her.

When an autopsy report later revealed there was no blunt trauma to Wall's skull, he said she died after a sudden drop in pressure caused toxic fumes to fill the vessel while he was up on deck.

He has admitted cutting off the journalist's head, arms and legs, and stuffing the body parts into plastic bags weighed down with metal pipes before throwing them into the sea as he contemplated suicide.

A cyclist found Wall's torso floating in Køge Bay, off Copenhagen, 10 days after her disappearance.

The rest of her remains were recovered over the course of the next few weeks from waters off the Danish capital.

An autopsy report said Wall most likely died after being strangled or having her throat slit, after having been sexually abused, but was unable to definitively ascertain the cause of death.

Fourteen stab wounds and piercings were found in her genital area.

The court heard Madsen had brought a number of objects on board the submarine including a saw, plastic luggage strips and a very long, sharpened screwdriver.

Several hours before Wall boarded the submarine on August 10th, he googled “beheaded girl agony” — something Madsen says was “pure coincidence”.

The prosecution also cited a psychiatric evaluation of the accused, which described him as “perverse” with “psychopathic traits”.

The court was shown some of the video clips and animated films found on Madsen's hard drive, in which women were impaled and beheaded.

“It is not of a sexual nature. This is about strong emotions. I watch these videos to cry and to feel emotions,” he told the court.

Madsen has insisted he stabbed Wall's genital area to prevent gases from building up inside the body after death, which would have made it float to the water's surface.

The inventor said he didn't want her body found, to spare her loved ones the details of a death by toxic fume inhalation.

He was arrested on August 11th after he was rescued at sea as his submarine sank — intentionally downed, according to prosecutors.

The defence has criticised what it has called a lack of physical evidence against Madsen.

Under cross-examination, coroner Christina Jacobsen admitted she could not totally exclude the possibility of death by toxic fumes, because of the torso's decomposed state after being submerged in water for 10 days.

READ ALSO: Coroner testifies in trial of submarine owner over death of Swedish journalist

A submarine expert who inspected the Nautilus testified there was no soot in the vessel's air filters, saying that would be the case if Madsen's fumes scenario were true, although another expert called by the defence disagreed.

During Madsen's psychiatric evaluation, doctors found him to be cold when discussing the victim, and merely “curious” about his upcoming trial.

When they asked him why he dismembered Wall, he replied coolly: “When you're faced with a big problem, you break it up into parts.” 



Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime