‘Submarine killer’ loses court case over new relationships

Henry

Denmark’s most notorious prisoner, who is serving a life sentence in connection with the murder of a journalist aboard his home-made submarine, lost a case against the Danish state on Thursday over legislation barring him from starting new relationships.

Peter Madsen (52) claimed that a law passed in 2022 violated his right to a private life according to the European Convention on Human Rights.

This law restricts prisoners serving life sentences to visits, letters, and telephone contact only with people who were already close to them before their conviction, during the first 10 years of their sentence.

The submarine enthusiast and self-taught engineer was found guilty in April 2018 on charges of premeditated murder and sexual assault of 30-year-old Kim Wall. The award-winning Swedish journalist interviewed him on board his submarine in August 2017.

“The court found no ground for (Madsen’s claim), therefore Storstrøm Prison was acquitted of a series of accusations by the prisoner,” the district court of Nykøbing Falster wrote in a statement.

However, the court did grant permission for Madsen to receive visits, letters, and phone calls from a female prison guard he met after the crime, but before his conviction, which the prison has so far prohibited.

“It’s 50-50, but he will be less isolated than before,” Madsen’s lawyer, Tobias Stadardfeld Jensen, told AFP, adding that Madsen had not yet decided whether to appeal the verdict.

During his trial in 2018, Madsen confessed to chopping up Wall’s body and stuffing her head, arms, and legs into plastic bags, adding metal pipes for weight before throwing the bags into the ocean.

His high-profile court case revealed his interest in violent sex and offensive movies in which women are beheaded, skinned, tortured, and pierced.

The country was shocked a few years later when a young woman announced that she had fallen in love with Madsen after she started corresponding with him. He was awaiting trial at this stage and she was a minor.

This prompted the government to pass the only legislation of its kind in Europe.

Criminology professor Linda Kjaer Minke of the University of Southern Denmark said before the verdict that she believed Madsen’s case had solid legal grounds.

“The law may be a violation of article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. This article states that everyone has a right to respect for his private and family life and his correspondence,” she told AFP. “The law should not limit the right of prisoners in general to protect a very (small) number of women who may need help and support.”

She said it was a “shame” that Madsen was the first convict to question the law in court.

“In the public debate, his crime overshadows the fact of how invasive this legislation is and that the Danish state may have gone too far.”

Madsen has been divorced twice, and married both times in prison in 2019. This marriage ended in 2022.

Stadardfeld Jensen said his client has had almost no contact with the outside world since the law came into effect.

Madsen was found guilty in June of smuggling four letters to two women.

Stadardfeld Jensen said it was a “coincidence” that those who wanted to contact him were women, and that most of the letters dealt with rockets, Madsen’s true passion.

Four women who struck up conversations with Madsen after he began serving his sentence attended the court proceedings in November.

Only one of them had romantic contact with Madsen, his lawyer said.

“There is a young woman who has developed feelings for him,” said Stadardfeld Jensen.

The Danish government has maintained that the law is needed to protect people from dangerous criminals.

“It is not a human right to make new friends or have dates if you are in prison for violent and animal crimes,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard told AFP. “The aim of the law is, among other things, to put an end to a repetition of previous incidents where prisoners contact young people and try to seduce them to lure them into their web in order to win their sympathy or attention.”

Madsen’s lawyer insisted that was not the case for his client.

“He is a guy who knows that what he did is very cruel, and he has no sympathy for himself,” Stadardfeld Jensen said.

  • A documentary series, Into the Deepabout Peter Madsen can be seen on Netflix.