Today’s proceedings in the ongoing trial of submariner Peter Madsen were mainly concentrated on trying to establish background to the case and testing the forensic evidence.
The first witness of the day saw Peter Madsen from his own boat. He shouted across to him and Madsen replied that he “wanted to try something dangerous”.
The Nautilus then sank, and Madsen jumped into the sea and was pulled out by witness. Initially, Madsen said he’d been alone on the sub, but when police called him by phone, he said Kim Wall had been dropped off at Refshaleøen, so the witness then sailed Madsen to Dragør Harbour.
No conclusive answers
Next up was pathologist and senior doctor Christina Jacobsen. When questioned, she said that it had been difficult to come to a final conclusion regarding the cause of death because the body parts were too badly decayed due to being in the water so long.
Jacobsen conceded that some of Wall’s lesions to the lower abdomen and sexual organs could have been inflicted when she was still alive, but other injuries to the upper body were inflicted after death.
The prosecution drew special attention to injuries around the head and neck area. Jacobsen said that Wall’s throat appeared to have been cut with a single slash, and that could be the cause of death.
Moving on to Wall’s legs, the pathologist was asked about some pressure marks around the ankles. “Could there have been anything round her ankles under plastic strips,” asked prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen.
In relation to Madsen’s claim that Wall died as a result due to the release of exhaust gases in the submarine, the pathologist was unable to confirm or deny the supposition because there were no traces of exhaust gases found in the heart tissue.
Madsen had earlier explained that he spent an hour trying to push Wall’s intact body out of the submarine. His defence lawyer Betina Hald Engmark wanted to know whether any of the injuries could have occurred as a result of his efforts to push her through the hatch. “Yes, it can’t be ruled out,” answered Jacobsen.
Engmark also asked the pathologist whether carbon monoxide poisoning could be the cause of death, as Madsen claimed. Jacobsen admitted that this could not be ruled out either.
After a break for lunch, the first witness called was Wall’s boyfriend. He talked about their relationship and the events leading up to the fateful voyage. After his testimony, the bistandsadvokaten, a lawyer who looks after the interests of the victim and their family at a trial, put in a request for 150,000 kroner in compensation for him and Wall’s parents.
Struck by odd behaviour
The radio operator on the helicopter that had been called out to look for the submarine then told the court that he had been in contact with Madsen. “I wanted to hear whether anyone had been injured. All I was told was that there were some technical problems and it would be an hour to an hour and a half before he would be in Dragør,” the operator said.
He then saw the submarine begin to dive and sink. It went under in around 30 seconds. From radio communication it was assumed there were two people involved, so the fear was that one of them was still trapped in the submarine. The radio operator said: “It was confirmed to me that there ought not to be any more [people].”
When the helicopter landed at Dragør, the witness went towards Madsen to tell him there was a doctor on board and that the police were on their way. However, to his surprise, Madsen started to walk away.
When pressed further, Madsen reiterated the story that Wall had been dropped off earlier at Refshaleøen. He also asked the witness whether he thought that the Navy would be able to track him, which the witness thought an odd question.
The doctor on board the helicopter felt Madsen had not behaved in the way people usually do in such circumstances. He didn’t seem shaken and said that all he wanted was to go home to his wife and his two cats.
Seemed a bit down
A German who had worked as a trainee in Madsen’s rocket laboratory testified via an interpreter that around August 10 an Australian film crew had been in the laboratory.
When asked whether he’d noticed anything usual, he said that Madsen seemed to be “in a state that I’d not seen before.” He seemed down – possibly as a result of a rocket not being ready for launch when it should have been. Others in the laboratory also noticed that Madsen seemed to have no energy – as if he’d given up.
Sex and porn
The trainee also got the impression that Madsen was interested in sex and porn. Madsen had hinted that he was interested in the ‘dark net’.
The prosecution asked the witness about a saw and some green hoses that were on board the sub, but the trainee didn’t recall having seen them.
Returning to the ‘dark net’, when questioned by Engmark, the trainee admitted that he had seen some decapitation videos made by Islamic State out of curiosity, but that was four or five years ago. He also said he’d talked about them with Madsen.
The trial reconvenes tomorrow and will again consist of hearing witness testimony.
As Peter Madsen took the stand at the City Court for the second day running in Denmark’s most famous murder trial, in which he stands accused of the premeditated murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, the court heard the defendant answer a number of questions concerning his personal relationships.
For over five hours, Madsen answered queries about other lovers in his life and the court was shown a number of videos depicting the killing of women that were found on his workshop computer after his arrest.
Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen showed the court two animated videos with women having their heads cut off and being impaled on spikes, while the jury alone were treated to the real decapitation film that Madsen allegedly watched on August 10 – the fateful day he took Wall out on the submarine Nautilus.
Madsen, however, denied finding inspiration in the videos, but said that he watched the real decapitation because he felt bad for the woman having her head cut off.
Madsen also denied being turned on by necrophilia – Wall’s body had sustained many wounds post mortem – contending that he dismembered her to be able to get the body out of the submarine. There was nothing erotic in it, he maintained.
Defence lawyer Betina Hald Engmark then went through a number of people who Madsen had previously had a relationship with, including former lovers, friends and colleagues.
Madsen then talked about the various relationships he had with those individuals, including his supposedly wild sexual desire and the thoughts of several ex-lovers.
One of those former lovers will be a key witness. On August 4, Madsen sent her a text message saying that he wanted to impale her with a roasting spit – after she asked him to send her a threat as part of a game. That was just for fun, Madsen then explained.
Madsen also revealed that other people, including interns and a former lover, had access to the harddrive at his workshop. The lover even took it home once as well, he claimed.
The trial continues tomorrow as the first witnesses take the stand.
Denmark’s biggest infrastructure project to date, the projected Fehmarn Belt tunnel, has again run into trouble.
Ever since Danish approval for the project which would connect up Denmark and Germany came in the spring of 2015, it has been plagued by delays and budgetary problems.
The tunnel has been budgeted to cost 52.6 billion kroner and staying on schedule is crucial to keeping costs at this level.
Three weeks ago, transport minister Ole Birk Olesen decided to allow the building consortium to bring forward the preliminary activities to prepare for construction on the understanding that the German authorities would green-light the project by the summer, reports Jyllands-Posten Finans.
It now appears that the required approvals will not be available before the end of the year.
German local politician Sandra Redman told Finans that according to her sources, the problem lay with the fact that the company behind the project, Femern A/S, had not sent their paperwork in on time for approval.
“As far as we’ve been informed, they ought to have submitted their documentation in the autumn in order to have it approved by the summer, but the paperwork was actually only submitted in March,” said Redman.
Even after the German authorities approve the project it is expected that another two years could go by on court cases. It now seems that the earliest tunneling can start would be the end of 2020. This means that Femern A/S will also have to renegotiate the main building contracts and that could end up being a costly business.
Denmark and the other Nordic countries have long been lauded for their refundable deposit system for recycling used bottles. Now, Netto is taking things a step further.
Next month, the Danish supermarket chain will launch a pilot project involving incorporating a deposit system for plastic bags – the first of its kind in Denmark – in a bid to prevent them from being disposed of in the natural environment.
“Plastic needs to be removed from nature and we need to see an end to unnecessary plastic. So Denmark’s biggest supermarket chain will team up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to find new solutions to the global plastic problem,” Netto wrote in a press release.
“Along with our partners we’ll launch a number of initiatives that, among other things, aim to remove unnecessary plastic in the company’s products and packaging to ensure that as much plastic as possible is recycled – as well as introducing new and more sustainable plastic products.”
A win/win situation
The pilot project, which involves customers paying 50 øre extra for specially-designed plastic bags and receiving 1 kr upon returning the bag, will start in Netto shops in Funen on April 16.
Bags that are handed in will be collected and delivered for recycling, but should customers choose not to deliver their bags, the surplus deposit will instead go to WWF.
Those funds will in turn be spent on the removal of plastic from the natural environment in Denmark and abroad, as well as on focusing on uncovering more sustainable models for plastic disposal in Denmark.
A new report from the Transport Ministry suggests a bridge across the Kattegat would be a viable commercial proposition if there was no requirement to add a railway line to the project.
The projected bridge would be in two parts: one part from Røsnæs on Zealand across to the island of Samsø, and the other part from Samsø to Hov in Jutland.
Dropping the rail dimension would mean the bridge – which is estimated to cost around 58 billion kroner – could be completely financed by tolls on motorists over a period of 32 years, reports DR Nyheder.
The calculation is based on a toll rate of 240 kroner – the same amount charged for the Great Belt Bridge for cars without a BroBizz.
Paid for by users themselves
The government parties and Dansk Folkeparti are backing the project. “We’ve agreed to set in motion further studies regarding a road connection over the Kattegat because the new figures show it would probably be self-financing,” said the transport minister, Ole Birk Olesen.
Two years ago the idea was shelved by the then transport minister, Hans Christian Schmidt, when it was estimated it would cost 118 billion kroner, but that included a railway line.
If the bridge goes ahead, it is estimated Danes could save between an hour and an hour and a half in transport time between Zealand and the eastern and northern parts of Jutland.
Toxic for railways
However, not everyone is so enthusiastic. “This would clearly be toxic for rail traffic between Jutland and Zealand and especially for DSB,” points out Harry Lahrmann, a traffic researcher and associate professor at Aalborg University.
“Not only will people begin to drive instead of taking the train, but more people will also use long-distance buses. We can already see today that long-distance buses are eating into the market across the Great Belt,” added Lahrmann.
Tomorrow at 16:00 scores of people will congregate at City Hall Square to peacefully protest Poland’s recent crackdown on abortion.
Named ‘Black Friday, solidarity with Polish women!’, the demonstration protests the contentious ‘Stop Abortion’ bill, that was proposed by conservative groups in collaboration with the Polish catholic church.
“Despite strong opposition from Amnesty international, women’s rights organisations and public opinion in Poland ‘Stop Abortion’ has been ‘debated’ by a special commission and with a majority vote, has been passed for a parliamentary vote on 23/3!” the organisers wrote on Facebook.
“Please come on Friday and help us raise awareness and support women in Poland… Nothing about us without us!”
Poland has some of the most restrictive abortions laws in Europe, with terminations permitted only when:
– A woman’s life or health is endangered by the continuation of pregnancy,
– Pregnancy is a result of a criminal act
– The fetus is seriously malformed
But the new bill proposes to take it even further by outlawing abortions carried out because of congenital disorder of the fetus (estimated to be about 95 percent of legal abortions in Poland).
Poland is one of the few countries in the world to outlaw abortion after decades of complete legalisation and as a result Polish women often seek abortion in neighboring countries due to the strict restraints in their own country, or are forced to go to less-safe underground abortion clinics.
It is also considered a crime to persuade a woman to carry out an illegal termination.
As of now, about 80 people have signed up to attend the demonstration in Copenhagen tomorrow, while a further around 250 indicated that they are interested in attending.
The initial results of the Sundhedsstyrelsen health authority’s new campaign to prevent youngsters from taking up smoking are looking promising.
The results show that every fifth young person living in an apartment has cut down on the smokes, while every fourth non-smoker is even less inclined to start puffing after seeing the campaign. But to see even better results, parents need to get actively involved.
“If we are to prevent youth smoking, the parents need to come onboard,” said Ellen Trane Nørby, the health minister.
“But it can be difficult for parents to have the discussion about smoking with their teenagers, so as part of the campaign’s second phase we will be helping the parents. They need to feel prepared to have the talk about smoking with their teenagers and help ensure that fewer young people start smoking.”
Phase 2 initiated
As a result, Sundhedsstyrelsen has launched the website www.butwhysmoke.dk, where parents can obtain good advice relating to having the discussion with their kids – including pointers from experts and a number of short films.
And, as opposed to what many parents of teenagers believe, their teens actually do listen to them.
“The opinions and actions of parents are important – also in terms of smoking,” said Lotus Sofie Bast, an expert in smoking prevention.
When parents talk about their teenagers in terms of experience and thoughts about smoking, and when they make it clear that they don’t expect them to start smoking, they help reduce the risk of their teens starting to smoke.”
Despite the positive findings of the campaign, a recent report from Sundhedsstyrelsen revealed there was an increase in the number of people between 16 and 45 who smoke daily.
It perhaps doesn’t help that Denmark is among the cheapest countries in Europe when it comes to tobacco prices.
The fear of African swine fever has prompted the government to team up with Dansk Folkeparti to build a 70 km-long, 1.5 metre-high fence at the German border to keep out roaming wild boar.
Meanwhile, the size of fine for contributing to the risk of African swine fever coming to Denmark is being drastically increased.
“I don’t want to take any risks. We’re talking about exports worth 11 billion kroner annually,” said the food and environment minister, Esben Lunde Larsen.
“An outbreak of African swine fever in Denmark would immediately halt all exports to countries outside the EU. A fence will help prevent infected boars from moving across the border and make it easier for hunters to exterminate the boar population in Denmark.”
Hunted all year
Denmark exports pork to the tune of 30 billion kroner, and countries outside the EU account for about a third of that.
An outbreak wouldn’t necessarily threaten the total sum, as only pork exports from stricken areas would be impacted
Other EU countries, including Poland, are also considering a fence, while the Czech Republic already has one erected.
It is evaluated that there exists around 50-100 adult wild boars in Denmark. Hunters are permitted to shoot them all year round.
As things stand at the moment, both the weather service DMI and Naviair, the company that employs the nation’s air traffic controllers, may go on strike unless an agreement is reached between unions and Danish airports before April 4.
DMI is the only organisation allowed to produce the TAF special weather forecasts needed by civil airports in Denmark, reports TV2 Nyheder.
Contact your travel company
“We’re talking to DMI and Navair about what this might mean for air traffic in Denmark and Copenhagen, but we don’t yet know the extent of the problem,” said Kasper Hyllested, the press officer of Copenhagen Airport.
Hyllested advises people to contact their airline or travel company if they have questions about how they will be affected.
If an airport is unable to get a TAF, then the airline has to have two alternative airports in reserve that do have one where the plane can land.
The current situation appears to be unprecedented.
Internal flights in Greenland would also be suspended if DMI is hit by strikes, reports the Greenlandic radio station KNR.
At the end of January this year there were a record number of people employed in Denmark as the figures hit an all-time high.
Some 2,728,800 people were employed – an increase of 187,900 since September 2012, figures from the national statistics keeper Danmarks Statistik reveal.
In the private sector alone, 6,500 more people managed to get jobs during January.
The employment minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, is delighted.
“Employment is not only back to the level we saw before the financial crisis, but there is also talk of the highest rate of employment ever, so a historic milestone,” he said.
Poulsen also pointed out that since the summer of 2015 when the present government was constituted, 127,100 more private sector jobs have been created.
Steady as she goes
However, the minister sounded a note of caution: “In order to keep up the momentum of the economic upturn, it is vital that companies are able to obtain the labour that they need. Otherwise, we run the risk that a labour shortage could end up acting as a brake on growth.”
To help avoid this, the government has set aside 92 million kroner so that workers can upgrade their qualifications in fields where there is an especially high demand.
They also aim to make it easier for Danish companies to obtain access to suitably-qualified foreign labour.