COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish prosecutors urged a judge Saturday to hold in pre-trial detention the owner of an amateur-built submarine who is suspected of being responsible for the disappearance of a Swedish journalist who had been on the ship.
Peter Madsen was arrested Friday on preliminary manslaughter charges after his 40-ton, nearly 18-meter-long (60-foot-long) submarine, named the UC3 Nautilus, sank off Denmark’s eastern coast. He has denied responsibility for the fate of 30-year-old Kim Wall, saying she had disembarked before his vessel went down.
Prosecutor Louise Pedersen told a packed courtroom that Madsen faces the preliminary charges “for having killed in an unknown way and in an unknown place Kim Isabell Frerika Wall of Sweden sometime after Thursday 5 p.m.”
Wall’s boyfriend alerted authorities early Friday that the sub had not returned to Copenhagen as expected, prompting a major search involving two helicopters, three ships and several private boats. The Navy said the sub was seen sailing, but then sank shortly afterward.
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Madsen, 46, smiled in the courtroom and chatted with his defense lawyer.
“I would very much like to express myself,” he said after the preliminary charges were read. The court was then closed for deliberation as Judge Kari Soerensen deliberated whether to keep him in custody.
Kristian Isbak, who had responded to the Navy’s call to help locate the ship on Friday, told The Associated Press he first spotted Madsen standing wearing his trademark military fatigues in the submarine’s tower while it was still afloat.
“He then climbed down inside the submarine and there was then some kind of air flow coming up and the submarine started to sink,” Isbak said. “(He) came up again and stayed in the tower until water came into it” before swimming to a nearby boat as the submarine sank, he added.