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Danish owner of home-built submarine says journalist died when she was hit by hatch cover

Click to play video: 'Danish submarine owner says accident on board killed Kim Wall'
Danish submarine owner says accident on board killed Kim Wall
The Danish inventor accused of killing journalist Kim Wall on board his submarine has testified that a falling hatch killed her. – Sep 5, 2017

COPENHAGEN – Swedish journalist Kim Wall died when she was accidentally hit by a heavy hatch cover on board a home-made submarine, the Danish owner of the vessel testified in court on Tuesday.

Peter Madsen, who denies killing Wall, said he was holding the hatch for her but it slipped and hit her head as they sailed in the strait between Denmark and Sweden last month on the UC3 Nautilus submarine he had built.

Madsen, 46, was speaking in court after being charged with killing the Swedish journalist on the submarine and mutiliating her body — a case bearing many of the attributes of the region’s popular Nordic Noir books and films.

READ MORE: Missing journalist buried at sea after dying in accident on board home-built submarine, owner claims

It could mean a sentence of five years to life in prison for Madsen, if found guilty.

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The court on Tuesday ordered a psychiatric evaluation and that Madsen be kept in custody for four weeks.

In its preliminary investigation, the court had ordered Madsen detained until Tuesday on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Madsen said Wall’s death was an accident.

With the vessel at the surface, he said he had crawled out through the hatch and was standing on top, while holding it open to let Wall follow him. At that moment, the submarine was rocked by a wave from another boat.

“I lose my foothold and the hatch shuts,” he told the Copenhagen court, saying Wall was knocked to the floor. “There was a pool of blood where she had landed.”

WATCH: A Danish submarine inventor has been arrested under suspicion of murder after being rescued at sea on Friday. Police were alerted to the disappearance of a Swedish reporter who was accompanying the inventor.
Click to play video: 'Danish sub inventor arrested for murder after being rescued from sea, says he dropped off Swedish reporter'
Danish sub inventor arrested for murder after being rescued from sea, says he dropped off Swedish reporter

A prosecutor also read earlier testimony from behind closed doors in which Madsen said the impact had fractured the journalist’s skull and killed her.

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Madsen said he tried to bury her at sea but denied mutilating her body, and added that he had contemplated killing himself while still on board.

Wall, a 30-year-old freelance journalist who was researching a story on Madsen, went missing after he took her out to sea in his 17-metre submarine on Aug. 10.

On Aug. 23, police identified a headless female torso that washed ashore in Copenhagen as Wall’s. The cause of her death has not been determined.

READ MORE: Inventor charged with murder after submarine sinks in Denmark

In court, Madsen denied having amputated her limbs and said he dropped her “whole” body into the water, several hours after her death, after having a sleep because he was “tired and exhausted.”

He admitted that he wanted to “bury her at sea” by attaching metal to the body in order for it to sink.

“I had no contact with the body and didn’t want a dead body in my submarine,” Madsen told the court. “I put a rope around her feet to drag her out of the hatch,” he said, adding that he was crying during this operation.

“I am suicidal at this stage (and) thought a fitting end for Peter Madsen would be on board the Nautilus,” he said. “I was in a condition where I decided I couldn’t continue the life I had been living.”

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He changed his mind, he said, because he wanted to see his wife and three cats.

The submarine is one of three Madsen had built and one of the largest privately built ones in the world. It could carry eight people and weighed 40 tonnes fully equipped.

A day after taking Wall out to sea, Madsen was rescued in a navy operation after deliberately sinking the vessel.

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