Sunday 19 January 2020

Danish submarine owner may be charged with murder over journalist's death

Swedish journalist Kim Wall was last seen alive on August 10 (Tom Wall via AP)
Swedish journalist Kim Wall was last seen alive on August 10 (Tom Wall via AP)
Alumni of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism attend a candle vigil for Kim Wall at the campus in New York (AP)

A Danish inventor suspected of killing a Swedish journalist on board his submarine could be charged with murder, a prosecutor said.

Jakob Buch-Jepsen said police expect to raise the preliminary charges against Peter Madsen from manslaughter to murder and indecent handling of a corpse when he appears at a custody hearing on September 5 on whether his pre-trial detention should be extended.

"We will make an ongoing assessment of whether it should happen before," Mr Buch-Jepsen told the BT tabloid.

Police earlier revealed that the headless torso of reporter Kim Wall was found naked and they are now searching for her clothes.

The 30-year-old was last seen alive on August 10 aboard the submarine.

The cause of the journalist's death is not yet known, police said.

Divers and members of the Danish Emergency Management Agency were combing the coast off Amager island in Copenhagen, where Ms Wall is believed to have died, looking for an orange turtleneck blouse, a black-and-white skirt and white sneakers, Copenhagen police spokesman Steen Hansen said.

A cyclist discovered her torso on Monday.

Copenhagen police say the body's head, arms and legs had "deliberately been cut off".

DNA tests have confirmed the torso was Ms Wall's and dried blood found inside the submarine, which sank during the trip, also matched her DNA.

According to her family, Ms Wall was working on a story about Madsen, 46, who dreamed of launching a manned space mission.

Madsen initially told police he had let Ms Wall off the submarine on an island.

He later told police he buried her at sea after an accident aboard his submarine, UC3 Nautilus.

Tabloid Ekstra Bladet, quoting unnamed sources, said Madsen has asked to be transferred to solitary confinement, allegedly out of fear of being attacked inside the prison.

The plight of the reporter has resonated worldwide. On Wednesday, a candlelight vigil was held by classmates at the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York, where Ms Wall studied.

Norway-based investor Georg Poul Artmann, who holds about 75% of the shares in the Rocket Madsen Space Lab company that owns the 40-ton, nearly 18 metre (60ft) long submarine, told Denmark's Berlingske newspaper he will "clean up" within the company following recent events.

He did not elaborate.

Mr Artmann said his fascination with space had prompted him to invest 250,000 Danish kroner (£31,000) to support Madsen's space activities.

He also said Madsen was the company's day-to-day leader and as "an investor I have not interfered in the daily operations".

A self-taught engineer, Madsen was one of a group of entrepreneurs who founded Copenhagen Suborbitals, a private consortium to develop and construct submarines and manned spacecraft.

However, the group split up in 2014 and the Rocket Madsen Space Lab was created.


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