Danish submarine builder dumped body of ex-SCMP reporter Kim Wall in sea after ‘accident’ on vessel

Peter Madsen had been claiming that he last saw Kim Wall when he dropped her off on the tip of an island in Copenhagen late on August 10

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 9:50pm

The Danish inventor of a do-it-yourself submarine has said that a former South China Morning Post journalist missing since August 11 died in an accident onboard the vessel, and that he dumped her body in the sea, Danish police said Monday.

The inventor, Peter Madsen, had been claiming that he last saw Kim Wall when he dropped her off on the tip of an island in Copenhagen late on August 10.

But Madsen, who has been accused of negligent manslaughter, “told police and the court that there was an accident on board the sub that led to the death of Kim Wall, and that he subsequently buried her at sea in an undefined location of the Koge Bay” south of Copenhagen, police said in a statement.

Madsen’s appearance before a judge on August 12 was held behind closed doors and the investigation has been classified, so it is not known exactly when he made his statement.

Danish and Swedish authorities have been searching for Wall, a 30-year-old reporter who had been writing a feature story about Madsen, after she failed to return from an interview with him aboard the 60-foot (18-metre) Nautilus on August 10.

Danish police said the search for her body by helicopters, ships and divers during the weekend would continue on Monday.

Swedish daily Aftonbladet quoted a letter from Wall’s family on Friday “pleading for help from the public” about her whereabouts.

“We wish for nothing more than to have Kim back alive, but we realise that the chances are extremely slim,” her family was quoted as saying.

Madsen and Wall were sighted onboard the vessel by several people in waters off Copenhagen the evening of August 10.

Photos of the two emerged online standing next to each other in the sub’s tower. She appeared to be smiling.

When Wall didn’t return home, the sub was also reported missing. Rescue crews located it around midday on August 11 in Koge Bay, about 50 kilometres south of the Danish capital.

Just after it was found, Madsen was rescued, alone, and the submarine suddenly sank.

Police have since said they believe Madsen “deliberately” sank the sub. It was refloated and searched, and found to be empty.

Danish broadcaster TV2 showed images of Madsen as he was being interrogated by police after his rescue.

When a journalist asked Madsen what about contact information he had for the missing journalist, he responded: “Only that her name is Kim.”

“I don’t check the background when a journalist calls and asks ‘can I interview you,’” Madsen said indifferently as he entered a police car.

The Nautilus was the biggest private sub ever made when Madsen built it in 2008.

Wall, a 30-year-old freelancer based in New York and China, was known among her friends as an intrepid reporter, skilled at exploring hard-hitting topics in obscure, and at times dangerous, locations.

She worked as an editorial intern and reporter in Hong Kong for the South China Morning Post from June to September, 2013, covering news about China for the national desk.

Wall’s disappearance resonated among journalists around the world. Her reporting covered topics such as identity, gender, pop-culture, social justice and foreign policy.

In addition to The South China Morning Post, her work has appeared in Harpers, The Guardian, the New York Times, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, and many other publications.

A native of Malmö, Sweden, Wall graduated from Columbia University with masters degrees in journalism and international affairs. She received a bachelor’s degree from the London School of Economics & Political Science.

Additional reporting by The Washington Post and Associated Press