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Danish inventor faces trial for journalist murder

This file photo taken on August 13, 2017 shows police technicians investigating the rescued private owned submarine UC3 Nautilus in Copenhagen Habour. (AFP)
COPENHAGEN: Danish self-taught engineer Peter Madsen, charged with murdering and mutilating Swedish journalist Kim Wall last year aboard his homemade submarine, goes on trial Thursday over a macabre case that rocked the usually placid Nordic nation.
The Copenhagen Court House is to call 37 witnesses during the 12-day trial which could help clarify seemingly contradictory statements by the 47-year old accused, who has admitted to cutting up Wall’s body but denies murdering her aboard the vessel where she was last seen on August 10.
His lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, has not revealed what he intends to say at his trial.
According to a charge sheet, Madsen tied the 30-year-old freelance reporter by the head, arms and legs before beating and stabbing her, including 14 stab wounds and holes in her genital area, after she boarded the submarine to interview him.
Prosecutors say he then killed her and dismembered her body, stuffing her torso, head, and legs in separate bags weighed down with metal objects, and dumping them in Koge Bay off Copenhagen.
Madsen has changed his story several times about what happened that night.
He initially said he had dropped Wall off in a Copenhagen harbor, then he said she died in an accident onboard the vessel.
Contemplating suicide, Madsen said he subsequently “buried her at sea.”
But prosecutors believe Madsen planned to murder Wall as he brought a saw, knife, plastic strips, and metal pieces on board, all of which they say were used to torture and dismember her, and dispose of her remains.
“The Danes were like everybody else shocked by the cruelty of this crime,” said Frank Hvilsom, a journalist reporting on the case for the Danish daily Politiken.
“Many could identify with the victim and feel very sorry for her,” he told AFP.
Family and friends of award-winning Wall, who reported for The New York Times and the Guardian, among others, have set up a memorial in her name to fund women reporters interested in covering “the undercurrents of rebellion.”