Peter Madsen, the Danish inventor whose brief, grisly voyage in a private submarine ended in a reporter’s disappearance and death, has been formally charged with homicide. Prosecutors in Copenhagen announced Tuesday that his charges also include “indecent handling of a corpse, and other sexual relations than intercourse with the female Swedish journalist, Kim Wall.”
“This is a very unusual and extremely brutal case which has had tragic consequences for Kim Wall and her relatives,” Special Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen said in a statement.
Wall — an accomplished journalist who reported stories from across the world for The New York Times and The Guardian, among many other publications — joined Madsen alone aboard his UC3 Nautilus submarine in August. The pair set out from Copenhagen’s harbor, with Wall intending to write a profile on a man whose eccentric pursuits had earned him the nickname “Rocket Madsen.”
Within 24 hours, though, Madsen had been rescued from his sinking sub — with Wall nowhere to be found.
He initially told authorities he had placed her safely back on shore, but his explanation changed several times as weeks passed and parts of her dismembered body were recovered. He claimed that she died in a “terrible accident” when a 155-pound hatch slipped and fell on her head — then, when evidence contradicted this claim, he said she died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Still, he maintains that her death was an accident.
Prosecutors, for their part, allege that while the “method of killing is unknown,” the inventor likely either cut her throat or strangled her after she had come aboard the sub.
They are seeking a sentence of life in prison. They are also pressing to have Madsen’s submarine confiscated “with the intent of destruction.” He is scheduled to be tried by jury beginning in March.