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Kim Wall: Swedish Journalist Dead After 'Accident' Aboard Crowdfunded Submarine
Update: August 23, 2017
On August 21, a cyclist riding past Denmark's Koge Bay spotted what authorities have confirmed is the dismembered torso of missing journalist Kim Wall, as reported by the BBC. Authorities believe that Ms. Wall's body may have been deliberately mutilated, in "an attempt to ensure that decomposition gases passed out of the body, to make it less likely to float." It also appears to have been attached to a makeshift anchor.
"During the horrendous days since Kim disappeared, we have received countless examples of how loved and appreciated she was, as a person and as a friend, as well as a professional journalist," Wall's mother, Ingrid, said in a statement.
Despite the developments, Peter Madsen has continued to profess his innocence, and stick to his once-changed story that Ms. Wall's death was the result of an 'accident.' Madsen was said to state that he was "very relieved" that Ms. Wall's body had been recovered.
Update: August 21, 2017
At the request of both the prosecution and the defense in the Danish court case involving the disappearance of Kim Wall, a release has been issued giving a partial outline of UC3 Nautilus submarine owner Peter Madsen's new account of when he last saw the Swedish journalist. Originally, he claimed that he dropped her off later on the evening of August 10, about three hours after their voyage began.
The BBC writes, "A Danish inventor charged over the death of Swedish journalist Kim Wall has said she died in an accident on his submarine and he 'buried' her at sea, Copenhagen police say." Madsen is said to have stated that he left her body south of the Danish capital, in Koge Bay.
"My client has not confessed to anything, my client still pleads not guilty to the charges against him," Betina Hald Engmark, Madsen's lawyer, was quoted.
Footage from security video provided by a restaurant owner is said to have played a role in motivating Madsen to change his story. How Kim Wall actually died remains unclear.
Update: August 14, 2017
New reporting on Kim Wall's disappearance from News.com.au states that the UC3 Nautilus was recovered by authorities on Sunday, with no sign of the journalist inside. Police now believe that Peter Madsen deliberately sank the submarine. Further, eyewitness accounts indicate that it was sailing without its navigational lights lit, late Thursday evening, and that the vessel nearly collided with a larger merchant vessel.
Journalist missing since Thursday evening
Freelance Swedish journalist Kim Wall was reported missing on Friday, August 11, 2017, after she failed to return from a trip aboard a crowdfunded submarine built by Peter Madsen, the co-founder of Copenhagen Suborbitals and founder of RML Spacelab ApS, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Mr. Madsen was rescued by a private vessel after problems with the submarine, dubbed the UC3 Nautilus, caused it to sink on Friday. According to Madsen, he dropped Ms. Wall off on a redeveloped island, the origin of the voyage, in Copeghagen's harbor about three hours after the two set off on a short trip that began at 7 p.m. Thursday evening. Wall's boyfriend first alerted police to her disappearance early Friday morning, when she failed to return home from the trip, as reported by ABC.
"We call on Danish authorities to employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry into Kim Wall's fate and whereabouts," Nina Ognianova with the CPJ said in a statement. "Denmark should not be considered a dangerous assignment for journalists."
The journalist, who worked from both New York and Beijing, was working together with the owner on a story about the submarine.
"It is with a great concern that we, her family, received the news that Kim is missing after an interview with Peter Madsen in Denmark," a statement from Ms. Wall's family reads. "We sincerely hope that she will be found and that she is well."
Questions emerge with regard to condition of vessel
The BBC reports that a second crowdfunding campaign was launched, in 2014, to raise $50,000 to refurbish the sub, but that it only attracted $6,170. At the time, the sub had been on more than 1,000 voyages and was undergoing repairs by a group of 10. Then, in 2015, after a disagreement, ownership of the sub was transferred directly to Madsen.
Danish law reportedly prohibited the group from taking on passengers, though tours of the sub, while docked, were regularly held. It is not clear whether or not Madsen was legally permitted to be carrying the journalist aboard the sub. The BBC describes him as a "hobby engineer," stating uncertainty with regard to "what his background and training is."
Madsen was said to hold up the UC3 Nautilus as the largest privately built submarine in the world. In addition to his experience with submarines, Madsen also led a company called Rocket-Madsens Space Laboratory, whose goal was to "launch a rocket from a floating platform in the Baltic, near the island Bornholm," ultimately leading to private space exploration.
Madsen is currently being held by Danish authorities on preliminary charges, while an investigation is conducted. Divers who visited the site of the sub were reported to be unable to enter it. Reports indicate that the vessel may need to be towed to port before investigators are able to examine its contents. Authorities are unclear if Wall was aboard the sub when it sank, though they appear to believe that this is a possibility.
Deutsche Welle reports that the submarine was found only after a search by investigators. Madsen is reported to continue to deny the allegations. Authorities have appealed to the public for information with regard to or sightings of Wall after the time Madsen reports he dropped her off on the island, at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday evening.
"It took about 30 seconds for Nautilus to sink, and I couldn't close any hatches or anything," Madsen was quoted about the incident. "But I guess that was pretty good, because I otherwise still would have been down there."
"I am fine, but sad because Nautilus went down," he continued.
Madsen was described ignoring radio contact from authorities earlier in the day on Friday, which he attributed to technical difficulties. The malfunction that ultimately caused the submarine to sink is reported to have involved its ballast, a "compartment that holds water to provide stability."
© 2017 Stephen Sinclair