A Danish inventor discussed dismembering the body of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall without emotion in interviews with forensic psychiatrists, and demonstrated no compassion for her or her family, Copenhagen district court has heard.
“What do you do when you have a big problem? You divide it into something smaller,” Peter Madsen answered when psychiatrists asked about his decision to cut off Wall’s head, arms and legs. He compared his preparations for the act to the Battle of Trafalgar, and argued that “a dead body does not deserve any special respect”.
The details were included in a psychiatric assessment read out by the prosecutor, Jakob Buch-Jepsen, on Thursday, at the end of the 10th day of Madsen’s trial for sexually assaulting and murdering Wall.
The timeline of Kim Wall’s death
Thursday 10 August, around 7pm : Kim Wall meets Danish inventor Peter Madsen at Refshale Island, Copenhagen Harbour, and boards the 18-metre Nautilus submarine
Friday 11 August, 10am : Rescue crews locate the Nautilus in Køge Bay, south of the Danish capital
Friday 11am : Madsen jumps into the water after the submarine starts to sink, telling rescuers that there had been a problem with the ballast tank and something had gone wrong when he tried to repair it
Monday 21 August : Kim Wall’s body is found by passing cyclist
The prosecution believes Madsen murdered Wall to fulfil his sadistic sexual fantasies, citing the more than 140 video clips or links to videos showing murder and torture found on his computers, hard drives and iPhone. Madsen claims Wall died in an accident onboard his homemade submarine, when the pressure dropped in the submarine’s interior, flooding it with toxic exhaust fumes. He admits, however, to dismembering her body, claiming it was the only way he could pull it from the vessel.
The psychiatrists have recommended that Madsen be held in “safe custody”, as his “narcissistic and psychopathic traits” make him a continuing danger to others. Their report adds that Madsen showed “a severe lack of empathy and remorse”, and was “extremely untrustworthy” and a “pathological” liar. In the assessments read out on Thursday, the psychiatrists draw attention to Madsen’s belief, expressed in their interviews with him, that it would not be any more painful for Wall’s family to receive her body in five separate pieces.
The prosecutor, Jakob Buch-Jepsen, speaking to the press before the opening of the trial on 8 March. Photograph: Mads Claus Rasmussen/AFP/Getty Images
He expressed emotion when discussing his wife, they say, and when talking about a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Berlin. “He talks about the Holocaust Museum, where there is a teddy bear in a train carriage, which symbolises children being driven to the concentration camps,” the report reads. “He breaks out in tears which stop as suddenly as they have arisen.”
All 36 witnesses in the trial have now been heard, leaving only the final summing-up speeches on 23 April. A verdict is expected on 25 April. The witnesses included four women whom Madsen had tried to get to join him for a submarine trip in the days leading up to Wall’s death, as well as four of his former sexual partners, former friends, colleagues and interns in his space rocket project.
His wife, one of the defence’s most important witnesses, presented a doctor’s note that excused her from questioning. The court heard from Ditte Dyreborg, a veteran submariner in the Danish navy, who disputed Madsen’s claim that Wall was killed by toxic fumes.
He argued that no traces of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide or nitrogen oxide had been found in the submarine when it was tested. The coroner said Wall’s lungs had shown no sign of heat damage or traces of exhaust gases, as would be expected if she had died from inhaling exhaust fumes.