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Kim Wall trial: Submarine inventor Peter Madsen given life sentence for murdering and dismembering Swedish journalist

Forty-seven-year-old says he will appeal against conviction and sentence

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 25 April 2018 13:07 BST
Kim Wall: The murdered journalist talks about her aspirations as a foreign policy reporter

Submarine entrepreneur and inventor Peter Madsen has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering and dismembering the Swedish journalist Kim Wall.

Judge Anette Burkoe said she and the two jurors agreed Ms Wall’s death was murder, saying Madsen had not given a “trustworthy” explanation, and also finding him guilty o sexual assault and the defilement of a corpse.

It was a “cynical murder” of a journalist who was performing her duties, the court said in its ruling.

Madsen, 47, has said he will appeal against his murder conviction and life sentence.

He has denied murder throughout the trial and said Ms Wall died accidentally while inside his hand-built submarine, but he has confessed to cutting up her body and throwing the body parts into the sea.

Madsen initially denied dismembering her, then confessed that he had done so and said he’d thrown her body parts into the Baltic Sea.

Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen claimed Ms Wall’s murder was sexually motivated and premeditated because Madsen brought along tools he normally didn’t take when sailing, including a saw and sharpened screwdrivers.

Ms Wall, a 30-year-old freelance journalist who had written for several leading magazines and newspapers, was last seen 10 August last year waving to her boyfriend and other friends after boarding the submarine with Madsen.

Swedish journalist Kim Wall next to a man in the tower of the private submarine ‘UC3 Nautilus’ on 10 August 2017 in Copenhagen harbour (Reuters)

Police detained the Danish inventor on 11 August when he emerged from his submarine without Ms Wall.

He initially claimed she had disembarked from the submarine to an island in Copenhagen several hours into their trip.

Later in the month, her dismembered torso was found at sea off Copenhagen, and other body parts were found in plastic bags in October.

"We are talking about a cynical and planned sexual assault and brutal murder of a random woman, who in connection with her journalistic work had accepted an offer to go sailing in the defendant's submarine," Ms Burkoe told the court.

Madsen initially claimed Ms Wall died accidentally when she was hit by a heavy hatch on the submarine, after which he “buried” her at sea.

He changed the claim when her head was found to have no skull fractures.

The prosecution said Ms Wall died either by strangulation or from having her throat cut. Forensics were not able to confirm or deny either allegation.

Madsen said he dismembered the body and threw it overboard because he wanted to restore “normal conditions” on board.

He claimed Ms Wall died from breathing exhaust gases which had leaked into the submarine due to a technical error while he was on deck. Forensics were not able to back up his claim.

Madsen’s defence lawyer had argued for his acquittal on the charge of murder, saying he should only be sentenced for the lesser charge of cutting Ms Wall’s body into pieces.

The cause of death has never been established but the court found Madsen “cut the body into pieces to hide what had happened”.

In Denmark, a life sentence equates to 16 years, which can be extended if necessary.

Justin Chan, a friend of Ms Wall, told The Independent: “Kim was soft-spoken but very much outgoing. She always carried herself with class, even when she joked around with others.

"To this day, I still find it difficult to process what happened to her. She had too many stories that she wanted to tell.”

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