April 3, 2018 / 10:17 AM / 17 days ago

Witness disputes defendant's explanation in Danish submarine trial

(Reuters) - An investigation of Danish inventor Peter Madsen’s homemade submarine showed no traces of exhaust gases, a witness told a Copenhagen court on Tuesday, casting doubt on Madsen’s explanation that Swedish journalist Kim Wall died last August after breathing exhaust fumes.

A court sketch shows accused Peter Madsen (L) and the prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen (standing) on the first day of the trial in Copenhagen, Denmark March 8, 2018. Anne Gyrite Schütt/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

“We have not been able to detect Co2 in the submarine,” Ditte Dyreborg, a lieutenant commander in the Danish Navy, told the court, according to Danish broadcaster DR. “And the experience from military submarines is that it wouldn’t pose a significant risk.”

Madsen, 47, is accused of murdering and dismembering Wall, a 30-year-old Swedish journalist who was researching a story on the Danish inventor and the submarine he had built. Prosecutors say she died either by strangulation or by having her throat cut.

He denies murdering Wall, although he admits he cut up her body so he could get it out of the 17-metre (56-foot) submarine. He intended to dispose of the body parts at sea to restore a “normal” condition on board, he said, adding that he was not thinking rationally at the time.

Madsen has changed his explanation several times, initially saying Wall died after hitting her head on a submarine hatch.

He later changed his explanation, saying she had been killed by exhaust gases caused by a defect in the submarine, claiming the initial explanation was to protect the deceased’s relatives from the details.

Madsen has said a defect in the submarine caused the submarine hatch to lock while he was on deck and Kim Wall was inside. The defect also filled the submarine with exhaust gases which killed Wall, he claims.

However, the amount of gas produced in the submarine, should Madsen’s explanation be true, would not have been lethal, Ditte Dyreborg told the court.

Madsen could face up to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. Most life sentences in Denmark end in 14 to 16 years.

Reporting by Emil Gjerding Nielson; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Larry King

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