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Danish Inventor Accused of Murdering Kim Wall Goes on Trial

Ms. Wall had apparently intended to write about Mr. Madsen as part of an article about a Danish amateur space race. Though she had been in touch with him months earlier, it wasn’t until the afternoon of her disappearance that he extended an impromptu invitation to interview him that evening on his submarine, the UC3 Nautilus.

Ms. Wall and her boyfriend, Ole Stobbe, had been scheduled to move to Beijing less than a week after she went missing. That evening, they had planned to meet friends for a farewell party at an open-air lounge overlooking the Oresund strait between Denmark and southern Sweden, where Ms. Wall was raised.

Ms. Wall sailed off with Mr. Madsen at around 7 p.m. Mr. Stobbe has told journalists that he and Ms. Wall had texted back and forth and that she had seemed to be enjoying the excursion. But after a few hours, the texts stopped. He alerted the police shortly before 2 a.m.

Mr. Madsen was rescued from the water the following morning by a passing boat. The police say he had deliberately sunk the submarine. He was taken into custody shortly after being brought to land.

According to prosecutors, somewhere between 10 p.m. on Aug. 10 and 10 a.m. on Aug. 11, Mr. Madsen overpowered Ms. Wall in his submarine. He bound, tortured and sexually assaulted her before he murdered her, the authorities said, by either strangling her or cutting her throat. Then he used tools he had taken with him to cut the body into six pieces and dump them in the water.

Although Mr. Madsen admits to having dismembered and disposed of Ms. Wall’s body, he denies murdering her. His explanation for her death has changed several times since his arrest, however.

First, he told the police that he had left Ms. Wall on land after their excursion. Later, when officers found her blood in the submarine and after her torso floated ashore on Aug. 21, he told investigators that she had died in an accident. When divers discovered her head and medical examiners found no sign of blunt trauma, Mr. Madsen said she had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Prosecutors have asked for a life sentence or, failing that, a sentence of “safe custody,” a special psychiatric measure for those considered particularly dangerous.

While both sentences can be indefinite, Mr. Madsen could apply for parole after 12 years if given a life sentence. A sentence of “safe custody” in a secure medical facility is reviewed on a regular basis by the courts. The Danish Medico-Legal Council, an independent medical body that advises the courts, has recommended that Mr. Madsen be placed in safe custody.

In Denmark, serious crimes that carry more than a four-year prison sentence are normally tried before three judges and a six-person jury. But the accused has the right to a smaller panel, which is what Mr. Madsen has chosen. His trial will be presented before Judge Anette Burko and two lay jurors. When ruling, the opinions of the judge and each of the jurors carry equal weight.

As the trial opened, the 33-ton submarine at the center of the case rested wrapped in plastic and tarpaulin on the Refshaleoen peninsula in Copenhagen.

Residents said they would be glad when the trial was over. “It’s nice that it’s coming to a close,” said Mathias Lauridsen, 29, an I.T. consultant who was sitting outside a climbing center in Refshaleoen this week. “It’s a big case, but at some point, too many details have been left out in public,” he added.

Nearby, Rick Hauchman, 36, was working at a yacht storage facility where Mr. Madsen kept a small fishing boat. “Denmark isn’t used to having stuff like this happen,” said Mr. Hauchman, an American who moved to Denmark four years ago.

In memory of Ms. Wall, her family and friends have set up a fund to support young female journalists. The first recipient will receive a grant of $ 5,000 on March 23, Ms. Wall’s birthday.

Ms. Wall’s mother, Ingrid, told the Swedish news agency TT that the award was a symbol of hope. “This is a way for everyone to focus on a continuation, instead of on it having ended that night in that submarine,” she said. “This means she will live on.”

Source: NYT > World

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