Investigators confirm Kim Wall’s body had puncture wounds, metal attached
Thursday - 24/08/2017 20:32
A final picture snapped by a fellow boatgoer may provide the last chilling clue as to what happened on board a vessel built by local inventor, Peter Madsen
Days after the Swedish journalist’s torso was found in freezing waters separating Denmark and Sweden, the family of Ms Wall said “question marks remain” about what exactly happened in the hours after she boarded a private submarine on August 10.
A final picture snapped by a fellow boatgoer may provide the last chilling clue as to what happened on board a vessel built by local inventor, Peter Madsen, 46 — now charged with negligent homicide.
This week, Copenhagen Police chief investigator Jens Møller Jensen said the autopsy showed metal was attached to the punctured torso confirmed to be Kim Wall.
“The body bears the mark of having, most likely, been inflicted deliberate damage with the purpose of ensuring that gasses can pass out of the body — possibly in an attempt to avoid that a body rises from the seabed,” he said.
Investigators are combing the seabed and coastline for further body parts and clothing in the case that has shocked the local community and highlighted dangers for freelance journalists.
“We would still like to ask the public for help and if anyone has information of interest to the case, we would like to be contacted,” Møller Jensen said.
‘A CURSE ON NAUTILUS’
The mystery has sparked revelations about the complicated past of Madsen, described as an eccentric inventor frequently in conflict with his colleagues.
The self-taught engineer is well known in Denmark for his Rocket Madsen Space Lab in which he attempts to find “ways to travel to worlds beyond the well-known.”
He built the 18-metre Nautilus submarine after a crowd-funding campaign which sank as he was rescued.
The investigation will now focus on the missing moments between 7pm on Thursday August 10 when Wall boarded the submarine, and 11am on Friday August 11 when Madsen was rescued just before it sank.
He initially said he dropped Wall off on an island in Copenhagen but later changed his story to say she died in an accident and he buried her at sea. His lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, said he pleads not guilty and the “DNA match doesn’t change my client’s explanation that an accident happened.”
Wall’s family posted a statement online revealing their “infinite shock” at the tragedy.
“We are not yet able to see the full extent of this disaster, and a lot of questions marks remain,” it said.
“The tragedy has not only affected us and our extended family, but friends and colleagues all over the world.”
The investigation has shined a spotlight on the eccentric inventor who grew up near Copenhagen, living with his father after his parents divorced age 6.
A 2014 biography written by journalist Thomas Djursing saw him describe his father as a “villain”.
“When I think about my father, I think how children in Germany must have felt if their dad was a commandant in a concentration camp. How does it feel to know your own father is a villain?” he said in the book.
He created his first company at 15 to build a rocket and has been working on Nautilus since 2008 along with other ideas for private space travel. However he has repeatedly fallen out with colleagues including former NASA worker Kristian von Bengtson he was building a rocket with.
“I’m fully aware that my temper is to blame for Kristian’s exit and I’m very sorry it has come to this,” Madsen wrote in a statement at the time.
He had also fought with 25 volunteers who helped work on the Nautilus, leading to the ownership being transferred directly to him in 2015. At the time, Madsen texted two of the board members: “there is a curse on Nautilus”.
“That curse is me. There will never be peace on Nautilus as long as I exist,” Madsen wrote, according to a 2015 post written by the volunteers on the sub’s website.
Biographer Djursing said Madsen is not violent and didn’t drink or take drugs, but was “angry with God and everyone,” according to Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.
“Conflict has followed him his whole life. He has a hard time getting along with other people — he has lofty ambitions and wants to do everything his way,” he said.
Madsen’s half brother Benny Langkjaer Egeso told Swedish daily Expressen he is “very strange and that turns him into his own greatest enemy right now.”
Meanwhile tributes and condolences have been pouring in for Kim Wall from friends and colleagues who described her as engaging and fearless in her pursuit of the truth.
The London School of Economics and Columbia School of Journalism Graduate had reported from Uganda, Sri Lanka and the US for a range of high-profile publications. Her family noted the terrible irony of someone who has travelled so widely dying in a relatively safe country close to home.
“In the terrible days following Kim’s disappearance we have received countless examples of how loved and appreciated she has been, as a human being and friend as well as a professional journalist,” her mother said.
“She has found and told stories from different parts of the globe, stories that have to be written. Kim travelled for months in the Pacific to let the world know what is happening to the population of those islands sinking into the sea as a result of atomic explosions. She let us follow her to earthquake-hit Haiti, to Idi Amin’s torture chambers in Uganda and the mine fields of Sri Lanka. She gave a voice to the weak, the vulnerable and the marginalised.”
Friend and colleague Sruthi Gottipati cited the shrinking budgets of news organisations as one of the reasons freelance journalists are forced to take risks in order to score commissions.
“As news organisations grapple with shrinking budgets, they increasingly rely on freelancers, who cost less and are often willing to take on the attendant risks reporting in places they wouldn’t send their staff to,” she wrote in the Guardian.
“Even against this backdrop, the competition is fierce to place stories, and female freelancers work hard to ensure their gender isn’t calculated as a liability. So they clam up about the dangers they face and sometimes report before being commissioned to do so.”