Danish inventor Peter Madsen has been found guilty of the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall on-board his home-made submarine in Copenhagen last year, and sentenced to life in prison.
Copenhagen District Court ruled that Madsen had planned Miss Wall’s murder and brutally sexually assaulted the 30-year-old before dismembered her body to cover his tracks.
Madsen, 47, stood quietly listening as the judge read out the verdict on Wednesday, and his defense lawyer Betina Hald Engmark later said they will appeal.
Guilty: Peter Madsen has been found guilty of sexually assaulting Swedish journalist Kim Wall onboard his home-made submarine in Copenhagen last year, and sentenced to life in prison.
Jailed: Peter Madsen is seen in a court sketch from Copenhagen District Court today
‘After a total assessment, the court finds that the defendant murdered Kim Wall,’ Judge Anette Burkoe said.
The court decided that Madsen had ‘dismembered the body to conceal the evidence from the crime he had committed,’ she said.
Miss Wall’s were found submerged in the water off Copenhagen after she interviewed Madsen on his submarine on August 10.
Madsen had admitted to dismembering Miss Wall’s body, but during the course of the trial repeatedly denied murdering her.
During the trial, Prosecutor Jacob Buch-Jepsen had claimed Madsen had tied up and tortured Miss Wall before murdering her in a sexually motivated killing.
Appeal: Madsen’s defense attorney Betina Hald-Engmark, seen arriving at the courthouse in Copenhagen today, has said they will appeal the ruling
Murder trial: Kim Wall, a 30-year-old freelance reporter from Sweden, died Madsen’s homemade submarine on August 10, 2017
‘SHE TALKED ABOUT THE MANY STORIES SHE WANTED TO TELL’: FRIEND PAYS EMOTIONAL TRIBUTE TO ‘INSPIRATIONAL’ KIM WALL
Malin Franzén, 29, who had known Kim Wall since they were teens, posted an emotional tribute on Facebook shortly after her death, honouring her friend,
‘Inspirational’: Miss Franzen, right, described Miss Wall, left, as an inspiration with a wicked sense of humour who made ‘anything seem possible’
‘The last 12 days have been a never-ending parade of one unfathomable event after the other. Just three weeks ago, she was at on our sofa and told us about her new house in China where – according to her – cats sometimes fall thought the roof, showed us pictures of Chinese t-shirts with inappropriate English text on, and demonstrated translation apps.
‘She talked about her love, of how many stories there are to tell, about the future, about her life. You always listened to her wide-eyed, because how many people do you know who can give you first-hand information about both the Ugandan film industry, the mass graves of Sri Lanka and the Cuban police force? Who had been accepted and graduated from not one, but two, super schools?
‘I was looking over her shoulder when she read her acceptance letter for Columbia, and almost fainted when I saw their term fee, but she just said something along the lines of ‘oh right, yes, I gotta sort that’. And she did that because what she has achieved, she has achieved on her own merits, nothing has been served up for her.
‘Despite this, she never acted superior or was pretentious (but also never falsely humble) and kept the same humour (without competition the most inappropriate I’ve ever encountered) that she had when we worked as telemarketers in a shabby callcentre.
‘It is impossible to describe her. And I doubt anyone could paint a complete picture of her. Losing her is not just the loss of a dear friend, but also of a source of inspiration.
‘A couple of times a year, she swooped into the flat, dragging her gigantic suitcase. And when she left again, you were filled with a feeling like anything is possible. It is hard enough to comprehend that her adventure is over, it is flat out impossible to understand that is how it ended. Rest in peace, dear Kim.
‘That’s just the way it is, things will never be the same.’
First published with the permission of Malin Franzén in August, 2017.
During the trial, a coroner testified about numerous lesions found on Wall’s torso and head, including more-than two dozen stab wounds to her genital area.
The court heard that there was no conclusive evidence to prove the cause of death beyond doubt, but that coroners believed she had her airways ‘cut off […] due to either strangulation, throat cutting or drowning.’
The court also heard that Miss Wall had several lesions on her neck and jaw which would have been inflicted while she was still alive.
Just hours before Madsen met Miss Wall, he searched the internet for ‘beheaded girl agony’, and watched a video of a girl having her throat slit.
Peter Madsen has been found guilty of Miss Wall’s murder and sentenced to life in prison
Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen, seen arriving at court today, had argued that Madsen murdered Miss Wall as part of a sexual fantasy
WHO IS PETER MADSEN? THE SELF-TAUGHT ENGINEER WHO BECAME A BRUTAL MURDERER
Peter Madsen was well-known in Denmark before his arrest as an inventor who dreamt of exploring worlds beyond.
The 47-year-old grew up in the small town of Saeby, 60 miles west of Copenhagen.
His parents divorced when he was six and Madsen went to live with his father, whom he has described as authoritarian and violent.
‘When I think about my father, I think how children in Germany must have felt if their dad was a commandant in a concentration camp,’ Madsen said in a 2014 biography.
At 15, he started his first company, Danish Space Academy, to buy spare parts to build a rocket.
He studied engineering, but quit once he thought he knew enough to build submarines and rockets.
‘My passion is finding ways to travel to worlds beyond the well-known,’ Madsen wrote on the website of his now-defunct Rocket Madsen Space Lab.
In 2008, he launched the Nautilus, the biggest privately made submarine whose ownership was later transferred to him after a row with former colleagues.
Around the same time, he developed his idea for private space travel.
In June 2011, he successfully launched a rocket from a floating platform on the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm.
Madsen reportedly had an open marriage. Some of his ex-girlfriends have told the media he was into sado-masochism and erotic asphyxiation.
His half-brother Benny Langkjaer Egeso told AFP in August that Madsen is ‘very strange’, but also ‘very open and likeable’.
But others describe him as an erratic person who had spats with former colleagues and an interest in violent pornography.
‘His sexual fantasies slowly got out of hand,’ an associate, who had worked in Madsen’s laboratory, told the Copenhagen court, adding that the inventor called himself a ‘psychopath, but a loving one.’
The associate said Madsen toyed with the idea of making a pornographic film showing acts of torture and was ‘interested in snuff films,’ or movies where a person is really killed or kills themself.
Madsen has denied searching for or downloading such films but admitted to watching them ‘to be able to feel emotions and to cry’ about the women’s suffering.
But another apprentice engineer who had worked with him told the court the inventor was a ‘kind, empathic, passionate man who was ready to listen’.
Madsen changed his story of how Miss Wall died several times during the course of the investigation.
At first he claimed that she died after she was hit over the head when the hatch door slammed shut unexpectedly.
When no such injuries were found on Miss Wall’s cranium, he said she had been inside the vessel when a fault meant exhaust fumes filled the craft, causing a vacuum effect which meant that he was unable to open the hatch door to save her.
However, the coroner told the court that this was an unlikely scenario as‘the air seems not to have been able to leave the lungs, which is not the case with lack of oxygen or inhalation of gases.’
Miss Wall had been trying to get Madsen to agree to an interview for months before her death, and so when the opportunity arose, she left her own goodbye party on August 10.
She and he boyfriend were moving to China, and she kept in touch with her partner over the evening.
Tragedy: After dismembering Miss Wall’s body, Madsen sunk the UC3 Nautilus, in a Copenhagen harbour on August 11, 2017
Her boyfriend received several text messages from her which were read out in court earlier this month.
‘I’m still alive btw (by the way),’ one of her last messages read, adding ‘But going down now! I love you!!!!!!’ A minute later, she added: ‘He brought coffee and cookies tho.’
Her partner called police after the messages suddenly stopped coming, and authorities launched a search for the submarine, which did not have a satellite tracking system.
The 33-ton submarine sank south of Copenhagen on August 11 and Madsen was picked up unharmed. Initially, he told police he had let Wall off on Refshale island several hours into the trip.
Investigators found dried blood inside the submarine and on Madsen’s face and clothes, and divers eventually found Miss Wall’s body parts in plastic bags held down on the Baltic Sea-bed by metal pieces.
Kim Wall grew up in southern Sweden, and studied at Paris’ Sorbonne university, the London School of Economics and Columbia University in New York, from where she graduated with a master’s degree in journalism in 2013.
She wrote for The New York Times, The Guardian and other publications, reporting on topics such as tourism in post-earthquake Haiti and nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.
THE DEATH OF KIM WALL AND HER KILLER’S STORY: A TIMELINE
Kim Wall, a 30-year-old freelance reporter criss-crossing the globe for unique, quirky stories, boards self-taught engineer Peter Madsen’s homemade submarine, the UC3 Nautilus, in a Copenhagen harbour on August 10, 2017, to interview him for a story.
But she never returns. Wall’s boyfriend, with whom she had planned to move to China, reports her as missing on August 11.
The Nautilus is found that same day, sinking, as Madsen, 47, is rescued from the water.
The eccentric and well-known figure in Denmark tells authorities he dropped Wall off in the harbour the night before and that a technical problem caused the vessel to sink.
But the Danish authorities are not convinced. Madsen is detained for negligent manslaughter under particularly aggravating circumstances on August 12.
A BODY IS FOUND
Madsen changes his story on August 21 and says Wall died in an accident onboard his vessel and that he subsequently ‘buried her at sea in an undefined location of the Koge Bay’ south of Copenhagen.
Two days later, Copenhagen police confirm that a headless torso found in Koge Bay is Wall’s. The head and limbs had been deliberately cut off. The torso had been attached to a metal object to weigh it down.
Madsen is charged with indecent handling of a corpse during a police hearing on August 24. He insists she died in an accident when a hatch hit her on the head while onboard the vessel.
Prosecutors also reveal autopsy results which show Wall was stabbed 14 times in her genital area and once in the chest before her death.
Forensic results show no sign of a fracture on her skull.
Danish divers find both of Wall’s arms on November 21 and 29, respectively, near the same area where her other body parts were discovered.
A January 24 charge sheet says Madsen tied Wall up by the head, arms and legs before beating, ‘stabbing and cutting her’.
Prosecutors say Madsen ‘brought a saw, knife, sharpened screwdriver, straps, strips and pipes’ on board the vessel with the intention of killing Wall.
Neither the cause of death nor the motive has been established, but investigators believe Wall was suffocated or had her throat cut as part of a sadistic sex crime.
Described by psychiatrists as a ‘perverse polymorph’ with ‘psychopathic traits’, Madsen has changed his story several times about how Wall died.
After the autopsy report revealed no blunt trauma to her head, Madsen said she died from toxic fumes that filled the vessel after a sudden drop in pressure while he was up on deck.
He maintained this argument throughout the trial. He rejects the charge of premeditated murder, but admits to desecrating a corpse.
A coroner testified that Wall’s lungs showed no sign of fume inhalation. But under cross-examination, she could not totally rule out Madsen’s scenario, because of the torso’s decomposed state after being submerged for 10 days.
The court is shown several animated and so-called snuff films found on the hard drive of Madsen’s computer, of women being impaled, hanged and beheaded.
While the prosecutor calls for a life term for premeditated murder, Madsen’s defence urges the court to acquit him on the murder and sexual assault charges, but admits to the charge of desecrating a corpse.
‘I’m really, really sorry for what happened,’ Madsen tells the court.