Content note: Violence, death, violence against women, possible murder, mutilation of corpses
The newspapers in Denmark is currently spending much time on one particular story that on one side is pretty common, and on the other side, is quite bizarre.
One the common side, it is the all-to-common story of a man and a woman going somewhere, woman disappears, and later turns up dead.
One the bizarre side, it involves a submarine, a well-known Danish rocket enthusiast, a Swedish journalist, and rumors about the sex tastes of at least some of the people involved.
The story that is known so far is this: On August 10, Swedish journalist Kim Wall boarded a submarine together with Danish rocket enthusiast Peter Madsen. Peter Madsen designed and built the submarine himself, and has been known to give tours in it.
After Wall failed to return home, her boyfriend alarmed the police, who started a search for the submarine, which at that time, also had disappeared.
The submarine was found, and Peter Madsen saved from it by helicopter. While Peter Madsen was saved, the submarine sank because of a leak in it. Peter Madsen claimed that the leak appeared after he had set Kim Wall on land.
So, to sum it up, Kim Wall went on the submarine trip with Peter Madsen, and was set on land. Afterwards, the submarine sank, and Kim Will disappeared on the way home from where she was set on land.
Unsurprisingly, the police didn’t quite buy this story, and started looking closer at the details.
There was camera footage from the place where Kin Wall was supposed to have been put on land, which showed that nothing of the sort happened.
This is where Peter Madsen changed his story – he claimed that Kim Wall had died by an accident in the submarine, and that he had buried her at sea.
Peter Madsen was accused of manslaughter and put into jail pending a trial.
Since then, the torso of Kim Wall has been found, and Kim Wall’s blood and underwear has been found in the submarine (which has been raised).
Currently, Peter Madsen is sticking to his story about burying Kim Wall at sea, claiming that the mutilation of the body must have happened after he threw her into the sea. He has provided the details that Kim Wall was hit on the head by the hatch, which killed her. He also said that he used a rope to get her up the ladder, which somehow made her underwear slip off her.
Again, unsurprisingly the police isn’t buying it, and has added murder charges and charges of indecent handling of corpses (it is worth noticing that indecent here isn’t necessarily in a sexual sense, but also covers handling corpses in a disrespectful way, such as mutilating them).
The police is working hard to collect as much evidence as possible, in order to get Peter Madsen convicted.
And now for the sexual tastes – during the court hearings, there has been questions into the sexual tastes of Peter Madsen, asking if he is into BSDM. I understand the direction of the questions, but I find it problematic that it appears that they try to indicate that being into BSDM would lead a person to murder someone. This is hardly the case.
As wall as going to the court hearings, Peter Madsen is being evaluated psychologically. Unlike the US (or at least movie description of US courtrooms), an insanity plea won’t get you off the hook in Denmark. If you are considered insane, and thus a danger to society, you will be put into custody without a time limit. The only way to get out again, is to convince the judges and psychologists that you are no longer a threat to society.
In most countries, guilt has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and this is also the case in Denmark. However, this can be done in many ways, as explained in this NY Times article:
“The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a crime, but there are no rules demanding certain types of evidence,” said Trine Baumbach, an associate professor of law at Copenhagen University. “It’s a very pragmatic legal system and the sum of the circumstantial evidence can be enough,” she said, noting a recent murder conviction in a case in which the victim’s body was never found.
Given the changing stories of Peter Madsen, his admitted behavior after the death of Kim Wall, and the state of Kim Wall’s corpse, I personally think that there is a high likelihood that Peter Madsen will be found guilty. But it is good that the police keep working on finding more evidence.
I will continue to blog on this story as it develops.