Danish submarine owner says Kim Wall died when she was hit by hatch cover

COPENHAGEN, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Swedish journalist Kim Wall died when she was accidentally hit by a heavy hatch cover on board a home-made submarine, the Danish owner of the vessel testified in court on Tuesday.

Peter Madsen, who denies killing her, said he was holding the hatch for Wall as they sailed in the strait between Denmark and Sweden last month on the UC3 Nautilus submarine he had built.

With the vessel at the surface, he said he had crawled out through the hatch and was standing on top, while holding it open to let Wall follow him. At that moment, the submarine was rocked by a wave from another boat.

"I lose my foothold and the hatch shuts," he told the Copenhagen court, saying Wall was knocked to the floor. "There was a pool of blood where she had landed."

Photos from the case:

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Danish inventor charged with killing journalist on his submarine -- Peter Madsen and Kim Wall
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Danish inventor charged with killing journalist on his submarine -- Peter Madsen and Kim Wall
A photo of Swedish journalist Kim Wall who was aboard a submarine "UC3 Nautilus" before it sank. TT NEWS AGENCY/ Tom Wall Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN. NO COMMERCIAL SALES. MANDATORY CREDIT
Members of the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) assist police in the search in the Kim Wall case at Kalvebod Faelled in Copenhagen, Denmark, August 23, 2017. Scanpix Denmark/Martin Sylvest/ via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK.
The home-made submarine "UC3 Nautilus", built by Danish inventor Peter Madsen, who is charged with killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall in his submarine, sails in the harbour of Copenhagen, Denmark, August 10, 2017. Picture taken August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Thompson
Danish submarine owner and inventor Peter Madsen lands with the help of the Danish defence in Dragor Harbor south of Copenhagen, Denmark August 11, 2017. Scanpix Denmark/Bax Lindhardt/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK.
The home-made submarine "UC3 Nautilus", built by Danish inventor Peter Madsen, who is charged with killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall in his submarine, sails in the harbour of Copenhagen, Denmark, August 10, 2017. Picture taken August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Thompson
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - AUGUST 12: A salvage vessel arrives a Copenhagen Harbor with the privately owned and built submarine, Nautilus, which sank near Copenhagen Friday morning, and where the suspected murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall is assumed to have taken place, on August 12, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The submarine sailed out of Copenhagen harbor Thursday evening with owner Peter Madsen and Kim Wall onboard. Later the submarine sank in 7 metres of water. Peter Madsen was safely rescued but the Swedish journalist was missing and Madsen was subsequently arrested by the police and charged for murder. Madsen claimed that the woman was put ashore before the submarine sank. Madsen appeared for a preliminary examination at the Copenhagen Court Saturday afternoon. Police are now to investigate the submarine, which is built by Madsen himself. The Swedish journalist is still being searched for by the police. Her identity was released Saturday by her family to Danish broadcaster TV2.(Photo by Ole Jensen - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Peter Madsen, Danish inventor, engineer, rocket- and u-boat builder, talks about entrepreneurship during Danish Business Day event held in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 9, 2017. Scanpix Denmark/Ida Marie Odgaard/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK.
A unit of the Swedish Sea Rescue Society searches for the missing swedish journalist Kim Wall, at the Lundakra Bay between Barsebaeck and Landskrona on August 15, 2017. The Swedish journalist is missing after a trip with Danish inventor Peder Madsen's DIY submarine Nautilus in Oresund. / AFP PHOTO / TT News Agency / Johan NILSSON / Sweden OUT (Photo credit should read JOHAN NILSSON/AFP/Getty Images)
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK -AUGUST 13: The privately owned submarine, Nautilus, which is the suspected crime scene for the assumed murder on Swedish journalist Kim Wall, arrives to it's destination where further forensic police investigation wil take place near Copenhagen harbor on August 13, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The submarine sailed out of Copenhagen harbor Thursday evening with owner Peter Madsen and Kim Wall onboard. Later the submarine sank in 8 meters water. Peter Madsen was safely rescued but the Swedish journalist was missing and Madsen was subsequently arrested by the police and charged for murder. Madsen claimed that the woman was put ashore before the submarine sank. Madsen appeared for a preliminary examination at the Copenhagen Court Saturday afternoon. Police are now to investigate the submarine, which is built by Madsen himself. The Swedish journalist is still being searched for by the police. Her identity was released Saturday by her family to Danish broadcaster TV2.(Photo by Ole Jensen - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK -AUGUST 13: Police begin their forensic investigation work on the privately owned submarine, Nautilus, which is the suspected crime scene for the assumed murder on Swedish journalist Kim Wall on August 13, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The submarine sailed out of Copenhagen harbor Thursday evening with owner Peter Madsen and Kim Wall onboard. Later the submarine sank in 8 meters water. Peter Madsen was safely rescued but the Swedish journalist was missing and Madsen was subsequently arrested by the police and charged for murder. Madsen claimed that the woman was put ashore before the submarine sank. Madsen appeared for a preliminary examination at the Copenhagen Court Saturday afternoon. Police are now to investigate the submarine, which is built by Madsen himself. The Swedish journalist is still being searched for by the police. Her identity was released Saturday by her family to Danish broadcaster TV2.(Photo by Ole Jensen - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Danish submarine owner and inventor Peter Madsen lands with the help of the Danish defence in Dragor Harbor south of Copenhagen, Denmark August 11, 2017. Picture taken August 11, 2017. Scanpix Denmark/Bax Lindhardt/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT.
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK -AUGUST 13: The privately owned submarine, Nautilus, which is the suspected crime scene for the assumed murder on Swedish journalist Kim Wall, is carried out of Copenhagen harbor on a truck for further forensic police investigation taking place near the harbor on August 13, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The submarine sailed out of Copenhagen harbor Thursday evening with owner Peter Madsen and Kim Wall onboard. Later the submarine sank in 8 meters water. Peter Madsen was safely rescued but the Swedish journalist was missing and Madsen was subsequently arrested by the police and charged for murder. Madsen claimed that the woman was put ashore before the submarine sank. Madsen appeared for a preliminary examination at the Copenhagen Court Saturday afternoon. Police are now to investigate the submarine, which is built by Madsen himself. The Swedish journalist is still being searched for by the police. Her identity was released Saturday by her family to Danish broadcaster TV2.(Photo by Ole Jensen - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK -AUGUST 13: The privately owned submarine, Nautilus, which is the suspected crime scene for the assumed murder on Swedish journalist Kim Wall, is carried out of Copenhagen harbor on a truck for further forensic police investigation taking place near the harbor on August 13, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The submarine sailed out of Copenhagen harbor Thursday evening with owner Peter Madsen and Kim Wall onboard. Later the submarine sank in 8 meters water. Peter Madsen was safely rescued but the Swedish journalist was missing and Madsen was subsequently arrested by the police and charged for murder. Madsen claimed that the woman was put ashore before the submarine sank. Madsen appeared for a preliminary examination at the Copenhagen Court Saturday afternoon. Police are now to investigate the submarine, which is built by Madsen himself. The Swedish journalist is still being searched for by the police. Her identity was released Saturday by her family to Danish broadcaster TV2.(Photo by Ole Jensen - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK -AUGUST 13: The privately owned submarine, Nautilus, which is the suspected crime scene for the assumed murder on Swedish journalist Kim Wall, arrives to it's destination where further forensic police investigation wil take place near Copenhagen harbor on August 13, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The submarine sailed out of Copenhagen harbor Thursday evening with owner Peter Madsen and Kim Wall onboard. Later the submarine sank in 8 meters water. Peter Madsen was safely rescued but the Swedish journalist was missing and Madsen was subsequently arrested by the police and charged for murder. Madsen claimed that the woman was put ashore before the submarine sank. Madsen appeared for a preliminary examination at the Copenhagen Court Saturday afternoon. Police are now to investigate the submarine, which is built by Madsen himself. The Swedish journalist is still being searched for by the police. Her identity was released Saturday by her family to Danish broadcaster TV2.(Photo by Ole Jensen - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
A unit of the Swedish Sea Rescue Society searches for the missing swedish journalist, Kim Wall, at the Lundakra Bay, between Barsebaeck and Landskrona, on August 15, 2017. The Swedish journalist is missing after a trip with Danish inventor Peder Madsen's DIY submarine Nautilus in Oresund. / AFP PHOTO / TT News Agency / Johan NILSSON / Sweden OUT (Photo credit should read JOHAN NILSSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) (Danish: Beredskabsstyrelsen) assist police at Kalvebod Faelled in search of missing body parts of journalist Kim Wall close to the site where her torso was found, in Copenhagen, Denmark, August 23, 2017. Scanpix Denmark/Martin Sylvest/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT.
Members of the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) (Danish: Beredskabsstyrelsen) assist police at Kalvebod Faelled in Copenhagen on August 23 2017 in search of missing bodyparts of journalist Kim Wall close to the site where her torso was found on Monday, August 21. Scanpix Denmark/Martin Sylvest/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT.
Members of the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) (Danish: Beredskabsstyrelsen) assist police at Kalvebod Faelled in search of missing body parts of journalist Kim Wall close to the site where her torso was found, in Copenhagen, Denmark, August 23, 2017. Scanpix Denmark/Martin Sylvest/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT.
Members of the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) (Danish: Beredskabsstyrelsen) assist police at Kalvebod Faelled in Copenhagen on August 23 2017 in search of missing bodyparts of journalist Kim Wall close to the site where her torso was found on Monday, August 21. Scanpix Denmark/Martin Sylvest/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT.
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A prosecutor also read earlier testimony from behind closed doors in which Madsen said the impact had fractured the journalist's skull and killed her.

He said he tried to bury her at sea but denied mutilating her body, and added that he had contemplated killing himself while still on board.

Wall, a 30-year-old freelance journalist who was researching a story on Madsen, went missing after he took her out to sea in his 17-meter (56-foot) submarine on Aug. 10.

On Aug. 23, police identified a headless female torso that washed ashore in Copenhagen as Wall's. The cause of her death has not been determined.

In court, Madsen denied having amputated her limbs and said he dropped her "whole" body into the water, several hours after her death, after having a sleep because he was "tired and exhausted."

He admitted that he wanted to "bury her at sea" by attaching metal to the body in order for it to sink.

"I had no contact with the body and didn't want a dead body in my submarine," Madsen told the court. "I put a rope around her feet to drag her out of the hatch," he said, adding that he was crying during this operation.

"I am suicidal at this stage (and) thought a fitting end for Peter Madsen would be on board the Nautilus," he said. "I was in a condition where I decided I couldn't continue the life I had been living."

He changed his mind, he said, because he wanted to see his wife and three cats.

The police have charged Madsen, 46, with killing the Swedish journalist, which could mean a sentence of five years to life in prison, and with abusing a corpse. The Copenhagen district court will rule on whether to extend his custody and on what charges.

In its preliminary investigation, the court had ordered Madsen detained until Tuesday on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

The submarine is one of three Madsen had built and one of the largest privately built ones in the world. It could carry eight people and weighed 40 tonnes fully equipped.

A day after taking Wall out to sea, Madsen was rescued in a navy operation after deliberately sinking the vessel. (Reporting by Julie Astrid Thomsen; writing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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