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article imageDanish sub killer verdict postponed as judge collapses

By AFP     Sep 14, 2018 in World

A Danish court on Friday postponed its verdict on an appeal by Peter Madsen, who is seeking a reduced sentence for the 2017 murder of a Swedish journalist aboard his homemade submarine, after a judge collapsed in the courtroom.

The lay judge, one of two serving along with three professional judges, fell ill shortly after the prosecutor began presenting his final arguments in the Copenhagen appeals court.

The judge, whose identity was not disclosed, was treated by paramedics and whisked away by ambulance. The court said later his life was not in danger.

The court had been due to present its verdict on Madsen's sentence later Friday. Proceedings were cancelled for the day and it was not immediately known when the trial would resume.

Madsen, 47, appealed his life sentence but not the guilty verdict handed down by the Copenhagen district court on April 25 for the murder of 30-year-old Swedish journalist Kim Wall, chopping up her corpse and throwing her body parts into the sea last year.

He claims her death was an accident.

In the appeals trial, which opened on September 5, Madsen's lawyer Betina Hald Engmark argued the life sentence was "disproportionate".

In Danish jurisprudence, life sentences are rarely handed down for a single killing. In the past 10 years, only three people have received such sentences.

Prosecutor Kristian Kirk meanwhile insisted the sentence was justified, given the grisly nature of the murder and Madsen's meticulous planning.

"We are talking about exceptional brutality," Kirk told the court Friday before the proceedings were suspended.

"This was not a spontaneous act. It had been planned for a while, and the only thing that was missing was a victim," he said.

In the lower court trial, it emerged that Madsen had contacted several women to invite them out on his submarine before he finally called Wall.

On August 10, 2017, the award-winning reporter boarded the submarine with the eccentric and self-taught engineer -- a minor celebrity in Denmark -- to interview him for an article she was writing.

Wall's boyfriend reported her missing when she failed to return home that night.

Her dismembered body parts were later found on the seabed, weighted down in plastic bags.

- 'Loving psychopath' -

Madsen changed his version of events several times, but ultimately told the lower court that Wall died when the air pressure suddenly dropped and toxic fumes filled his vessel while he was up on deck.

An autopsy report concluded that she probably died as a result of suffocation or having her throat slit, but the decomposed state of her body meant examiners could not determine an exact cause of death.

Fourteen stab wounds and piercings were also found in and around her genital area.

Madsen had argued that he stabbed her because he wanted to prevent gases from building up inside her torso that would prevent it from sinking to the seabed.

Psychiatric experts who evaluated Madsen -- who described himself to friends as "a psychopath, but a loving one" -- found him to be "a pathological liar" who poses "a danger to others" and who was likely to be a repeat offender.

The grisly case made headlines worldwide, all the more shocking as it took place in one of the safest countries in the world.

A life sentence in Denmark averages around 16 years. Only 25 inmates in Denmark are currently serving life sentences.

After 12 years behind bars, an inmate with a life sentence can ask to be paroled, but the justice system can decide to keep him or her behind bars as long as he or she is considered a danger to society.

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