‘Peter Madsen was obsessed with beheadings,’ Danish prosecutors argue as inventor’s murder trial resumes
Madsen is accused of murdering Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his home-made submarine but he claims she died accidentally aboard his vessel
The trial of Danish submarine inventor Peter Madsen, accused of murdering Swedish journalist Kim Wall, resumed on Wednesday as prosecutors disputed his account that she died accidentally aboard his vessel and suggested he was obsessed with beheadings.
Madsen has argued that Wall, a 30-year-old freelancer, died when the air pressure suddenly dropped and toxic fumes filled his home-made submarine on the night of August 10, 2017, while he was up on deck.
He has admitted dismembering her body and throwing it overboard, but denies the charge of premeditated murder.
Wall worked as an editorial intern and reporter in Hong Kong for the South China Morning Post from June to September in 2013, covering news about China for the national desk. Her work also appeared in The Guardian and The New York Times.
The prosecution has meanwhile painted a picture of Madsen as a sexual sadist who murdered her as part of a sexual fantasy.
Prosecutors on Wednesday showed the court videos found on Madsen’s hard drive of violent sex and of women being beheaded and impaled.
Madsen, who told the court he occasionally filmed his sexual encounters with women with an action camera mounted on his forehead, has previously argued that other people also had access to the hard drive.
Often argumentative, irritated and arrogant during questioning by prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen, Madsen rejected any link between watching such videos and actually beheading someone.
Asked by the prosecution if it was a coincidence that he searched for these videos online and that he now stood accused of murdering Wall, Madsen retorted angrily: “Jakob, would you think it was strange if you had seen a film about a nuclear bomb and then a nuclear bomb exploded?”
Madsen, 47, reiterated his argument that he searched for such material for “emotional reasons, not erotic reasons”.
“That it happens just before I sail off with Kim Wall is conspicuous, but random. She died from lack of oxygen,” Madsen insisted.
Thirty-seven experts and witnesses are expected to testify over the coming days to evaluate the credibility of Madsen’s accident scenario, and help understand the psychology of the self-taught engineer, described by the prosecution as “a perverted polymorph, and highly sexually deviant”.
An autopsy was unable to determine Wall’s cause of death, nor has a motive been established. But the prosecutor said evidence showed Madsen bound Wall around the head, arms and legs before beating her and stabbing her repeatedly in her genital area.
Prosecutors say he killed her – probably by strangling or slitting her throat – and cut her up with a saw, stuffing her torso, head, arms and legs in separate bags weighed down with metal objects, and dumping them in Koge Bay off Copenhagen.
On Wednesday, Madsen told the court the 14 stab wounds to Wall’s genital area were not sexual in nature.
“I considered where gases build up inside dead people when they decompose. They do so in different places. Therefore I tried to puncture that region,” he said.
“There is nothing sexual in the stabs hitting her vagina. I know you would like to think so, but to me there is nothing sexual to that,” he told the prosecutor.
The prosecution said an autopsy showed the stab wounds were inflicted around the time of death – either just before, at the time of or just after Wall’s death. But Madsen claimed they were inflicted “hours after” her death.
He told the court on the first day of trial, on March 8, that he chopped up her body because he panicked and wanted her dead body off the submarine but couldn’t lift her out in one piece.
“I don’t see how that mattered at that time, as she was dead,” he said.
Wall’s dismembered body parts, weighed down in plastic bags with metal objects, were later recovered from waters off Copenhagen.
Madsen told the court on Wednesday that he had brought the saw on board to build shelves on the sub.
An eccentric and well-known figure in Denmark, Madsen has admitted lying to investigators and changing his account of what actually happened to Wall several times.
Wall, who criss-crossed the world in search of unique and quirky stories, was reported missing by her boyfriend after she failed to return home from her interview with Madsen on board the 60-foot (18-metre) vessel.
The prosecution 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.
A verdict is expected on April 25.