Lawyers for Danish inventor Peter Madsen on Wednesday argued that his life sentence for the premeditated murder and sexual assault of Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his homemade submarine last year was too severe.
Madsen is appealing his sentence for murdering 30-year-old Wall, chopping up her corpse and throwing her body parts into the sea in August 2017.
Prosecutor Kristian Kirk told the first day of Madsen’s appeal hearing in Copenhagen that the murder of Wall, whose parents were present in court, had been found to be “cynical and brutal” and merited a life sentence.
But Hald Engmark for Madsen said the sentence was “disproportionate compared to legal precedent”.
“It’s unusual to be sentenced to life in prison. What was decisive (for the court) was that it was a crime that was prepared and planned,” prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen said when the sentence was handed down in April.
On Wednesday, the prosecution presented evidence to the three court of appeal judges from the previous trial, including images of Wall’s mutilated body, to justify the life sentence.
The Copenhagen High Court has set aside two more days for the hearing on September 12 and 14.
“We’re not here to determine whether Peter Madsen is guilty, because he is,” prosecutor Kirk said, facing Madsen, seated next to his lawyer and clad in a black blazer.
The grisly case made headlines worldwide after Wall boarded the submarine on August 10, 2017, with the 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.
Madsen maintained throughout his trial that the journalist’s death was accidental.
His lawyer has insisted that his decision not to appeal the guilty verdict should “certainly not” be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
It is not known if Madsen will take the stand during the appeal.
Madsen changed his version of events several times but ultimately testified that Wall died when the air pressure suddenly dropped and toxic fumes filled his vessel while he was up on deck.
Despite the testimony of many experts, the lack of tangible evidence in the case and the decomposed state of Wall’s remains made it impossible to determine an exact cause of death.
A post-mortem report concluded she probably died as a result of suffocation or having her throat slit.
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 body 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.
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.
The court of appeal’s verdict is due on September 14