Private submarine builder charged with murder of journalist

Peter Madsen ruled fit to stand trial, but denies allegation

Danish submariner Peter Madsen has today been charged with the murder of journalist Kim Wall.

At a press conference Danish police announced that Madsen was also charged with dismembering Wall, and with "sexual assault without intercourse of a particularly dangerous nature", referencing multiple stab wounds found on the body.

Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen also revealed that after being ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation in September, Madsen had been judged fit to stand trial.

The maximum sentence would be life imprisonment, but the Danish authorities have also called for the exceptional sentence of "safe custody", which would mean indefinite detainment, if later evaluation still regards an offender as dangerous.

Someone in "safe custody" is given a fresh evaluation of their potential threat to society after serving three years, and then after another 12 years, meaning that such a sentence works out on average as 15 years behind bars without parole, according to Swedish broadcaster SVT.

The prosecutor also said that in accordance with the wishes of Wall's family, Madsen's crowdfunded submarine, the UC3 Nautilus, should be destroyed.

The Nautilus sank near the Danish coast on 10 August last year. At the time, Madsen claimed that Wall, who had accompanied him on the boat to research a story, had been safely evacuated to shore before the sinking, although was not found at the time.

After being arrested on suspicion of killing the Swedish journalist, Madsen's story changed, stating that Wall had died during the accident which scuppered the boat, and he had buried her at sea. After police found Wall's decapitated torso and limbs, Madsen then told authorities a new version of events, first that she had died after being hit by a hatch door, and later that he had indeed been responsible for cutting up the body, but that her death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to SVT (Swedish link), Madsen will be held in custody until his trial, due to begin on 8 March. A verdict will be expected in late April. ®

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