COPENHAGEN — The Danish inventor accused of torturing and killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall during a private submarine trip before dismembering her body denied killing her, asserting at his trial Thursday that she died accidentally because of a pressure problem in the submarine.
Peter Madsen, who is accused of torturing Wall before he either cut her throat or strangled her on his submarine, also denied he was sexually attracted to her.
Sitting on his hands as he testified at the opening of his trial in Copenhagen City Court, Madsen appeared irritated at times as he brushed off any suggestion of sexual activity with Wall before or after her death.
Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen read from a psychiatric report describing Madsen as an intelligent man ‘‘with psychopathic tendencies.’’ Madsen himself told the court Thursday that he was ‘‘a promiscuous person.’’
Madsen has admitted to dismembering Wall’s body before he ‘‘buried her at sea,’’ saying he could not lift her up the submarine tower in one piece to throw her overboard.
Wall, a 30-year-old freelance journalist who wrote for The New York Times, The Guardian and other publications, embarked on Madsen’s submarine on Aug. 10 to interview the 47-year-old co-founder of a company that develops and builds manned spacecraft.
Her remains were found in plastic bags on the Baltic Sea bed weeks later, and her torso had been stabbed multiple times.
Buch-Jepsen started the 12-day trial by reading the charges, describing in detail how Wall’s body parts were found on the ocean bed. He said Madsen has ‘‘no empathy or feelings of guilt,’’ citing the court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.
If found guilty, Madsen faces between five years and life in prison — which in this case means 16 years that could be extended as long as Madsen is deemed dangerous — or he could be locked up in a secure mental facility if deemed necessary by psychiatrists, for as long as he’s considered sick and a danger to others.
Madsen, wearing glasses, a dark shirt and jeans, listened quietly with his fists closed. Wall’s parents were also present Thursday at the trial.
Testifying, Madsen repeated his claim that Wall died accidentally inside the UC3 Nautilus while he was on deck. He said Wall ‘‘had a wonderful evening until it ended in an accident.’’
Madsen had offered shifting explanations for Wall’s death prior to the trial. He initially told authorities he had dropped Wall off on a Copenhagen island several hours into their submarine trip. Then he said that Wall died accidentally inside the submarine when a hatch fell and hit her on the head.