Danish submarine inventor is convicted of reporter Kim Wall’s murder and sentenced to life

A courtroom sketch shows Peter Madsen during his murder trial in Copenhagen on April 25.
(Anne Gyrithe Sch’tt / Associated Press)
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Danish submarine inventor Peter Madsen was found guilty Wednesday of torturing and murdering Swedish reporter Kim Wall before dismembering her body during a private submarine trip. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Copenhagen City Court Judge Anette Burkoe said she and two jurors unanimously decided Wall’s death was a murder, finding Madsen also guilty of sexual assault and the defilement of a corpse.

“It is the court’s assessment that the defendant killed Kim Wall,” Burkoe told the packed courtroom.


During the 12 days of the trial that began March 8, the court heard testimony that Madsen, 47, lured 30-year-old Wall on to his hand-built submarine with the promise of an interview she had been trying to get for months.

Wall, a freelance journalist who wrote for leading magazines and newspapers, was last seen Aug. 10 waving to her boyfriend and other friends ashore as the submarine sailed off into the Baltic.

Her dismembered torso was found days later at sea off Copenhagen, and other body parts were found in plastic bags in October.

“We are talking about a cynical and planned sexual assault and brutal murder of a random woman, who in connection with her journalistic work had accepted an offer to go sailing in the defendant’s submarine,” Burkoe told the court.

In Denmark, a life sentence equates to a minimum of 16 years, which can be extended if necessary.

Immediately after the verdict, Madsen’s lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, told the court she would appeal. The court ordered Madsen kept behind bars during the appeal process.


“I am satisfied that the court has listened to what I said,” prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen told reporters outside court.

Throughout the trial Madsen denied having committed murder, saying 30-year-old Wall died accidentally inside the submarine.

He changed his story several times. Initially he told authorities that he had dropped her off on shore and did not know what had happened to her. He then claimed she had died accidentally when hit in the head by the submarine’s hatch. Finally, after her decapitated head was found by police divers in a weighted-down bag along with her appendages and the skull showed no signs of fracture, he said she had been asphyxiated in a malfunction aboard the submarine.