COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Danish authorities on Friday filed another charge against the inventor of a home-made submarine who is suspected in the death of Swedish journalist Kim Wall whose headless torso was found off Copenhagen, police said.
Peter Madsen, already charged with preliminary manslaughter in Wall’s death, now faces a charge of indecent handling of a corpse, according to chief investigator Jens Moeller Jensen. Madsen denies wrongdoing, saying she died in an accident aboard the 40-ton, nearly 18 meter-long (60 foot-long) submarine and he buried her at sea.
Wall was last seen alive aboard the submarine Aug. 10 and her naked torso was found Monday. Police say Wall’s head, arms and legs had been deliberately cut off. They also say that a piece of metal had been attached to the torso “likely with the purpose to make it sink,” and marks on it indicated that someone had tried to press air out of the body so that it wouldn’t float.
Under Denmark’s penal code, a manslaughter charge carries a prison sentence of between five years and life, and indecent handling of corpses carries a fine or up to six months in jail.
DNA tests made public Wednesday confirmed that the torso was Wall’s and dried blood found inside the submarine, which somehow sank during the trip, also matched her DNA.
Moeller Jensen said they still were looking for other body parts and her clothes, including an orange turtleneck blouse, a black-and-white skirt and white sneakers. Her family says that Wall was doing a story on Madsen.
Moeller Jensen said no search along the coast off Amager island in Copenhagen, where Wall is believed to have died, was planned Friday. He added that divers and members of the Danish Emergency Management Agency were standing by if needed.
Moeller Jensen said divers were searching the harbor of Dragoer, a village on the southern tip of Amager, where Madsen, an aerospace and submarine enthusiast, was detained after being rescued on Aug. 11 from the sinking submarine. Police believe Madsen deliberately scuttled the vessel.
He added that police have received more than 650 tips from the public in recent days.
A prosecutor said Thursday that police likely will upgrade the preliminary charges to include murder when Madsen appears at a court hearing Sept. 5 on whether his pre-trial detention should be extended. In Denmark, preliminary charges are a step short of formal charges.
The case has prompted investigators to reopen unsolved killings in Denmark, including the 1986 find of the dismembered remains of a 22-year-old Japanese tourist whose corpse was found in several plastic bags in Copenhagen harbor. Moeller Jensen stressed that it was standard procedure to look at so-called cold cases and there is no immediate link to Wall’s killing.
JAN M. OLSEN