The submarine captain accused of killing a Swedish journalist onboard his homemade vessel says she died when a hatch door accidentally hit her head.
Peter Madsen told a Copenhagen court on Tuesday that Kim Wall was slain when a door Madsen was holding open for her slipped and slammed into her as they sailed between Denmark and Sweden. Wall was traveling with Madsen to write an article about his contraption. Her headless body was later discovered in the sea.
Madsen is charged with involuntary manslaughter, and faces five years to life if convicted. He denies any wrongdoing, claiming it was all an accident.
Wall's torso was pulled from the Copenhagen harbor at the end of August. She had been reported missing days earlier when she failed to return from an August 10 undersea trip with Madsen aboard his privately built submarine, the UC3 Nautilus.
Madsen and the Nautilus were rescued from Copenhagen Harbor the night the freelance journalist's remains were found. After initially claiming he had dropped Wall off at the port before the craft suffered a malfunction that caused it to sink, Madsen changed his story and told the cops the reporter had died earlier that evening and that he had buried her at sea. Madsen has denied mutilating Wall's body.
"I lose my foothold and the hatch shuts," the captain told the court. "There was a pool of blood where she had landed. I had no contact with the body and didn't want a dead body in my submarine. I put a rope around her feet to drag her out of the hatch."
According to Reuters, the court has ordered Madsen to undergo a psychological evaluation, and he will remain in custody for at least another four weeks.
Built in 2008 as the world's largest non-government-operated sub of its kind, using private and crowdsourced funding, the Nautilus returned to the headlines earlier this year when it relaunched after four years of refitting and repairs. The craft has been docked and impounded by police pending Madsen's trial. ®