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Submarine-death trial ends with 'sorry' from accused, demand for life sentence by prosecution

A closer look at the day's most notable stories with The National's Jonathon Gatehouse.

Newsletter: A closer look at the day's most notable stories

This photo allegedly shows Swedish journalist Kim Wall standing in the tower of the private submarine UC3 Nautilus on August 10, 2017, in Copenhagen Harbor. Peter Madsen has been on trial on charges of murder, and a verdict is expected Wednesday. (Anders Valdsted /AFP/Getty Images)

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  • Trial of Peter Madsen, Danish inventor who stands accused of murdering and dismembering Swedish journalist Kim Wall, ends with disturbing details and a brief apology
  • Singer Shania Twain issued a Twitter apology this morning for telling a British newspaper she would have voted for Donald Trump
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here

Danish depths and depravity

(WARNING: This story contains material some may find disturbing)

The trial of the Danish inventor who stands accused of murdering and dismembering Swedish journalist Kim Wall came to an end with a brief apology today.

"I'm very, very sorry," Peter Madsen told a court in Copenhagen in his final remarks before a verdict is handed down Wednesday.

The home-made submarine UC3 Nautilus, built by Danish inventor Peter Madsen, sails in Copenhagen harbour on Aug. 10, 2017. Madsen is charged with killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall in his submarine. (Peter Thompson/Reuters)
The 47-year-old self-educated engineer is alleged to have tortured and killed the 30-year-old Wall during an interview and harbour cruise aboard the Nautilus, his homemade submarine, in August 2017.

He admits to having cut up her body and thrown the pieces overboard, but his story about how she died has changed frequently.

At first, Madsen told police that he didn't know what had happened to the freelance writer, claiming he had dropped her off on the shore.

Madsen, an inventor, engineer, rocket- and u-boat builder, talks about entrepreneurship during a Danish Business Day event in Copenhagen on May 9, 2017. (Ida Marie Odgaard/Reuters)
Later, he told investigators that she died accidentally when a hatch fell on her head.

After her skull was recovered and showed no injuries, Madsen altered his tale yet again, saying she had suffocated when exhaust fumes filled the submersible.

The 12-day hearing has been filled with disturbing evidence and testimony. Wall's torso, wrapped in a plastic bag before being dumped in the ocean, showed multiple stab wounds. Forensic investigators found signs that she may have been bound with her own stockings. Prosecutors also allege that she was the victim of a sexual assault.

The inaugural grant ceremony for The Kim Wall Memorial Fund was held March 23 in New York City. The award-winning journalist died on assignment interviewing Madsen. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)
However, investigators were unable to establish a cause of death.

Today the court heard more details about animated videos of women being killed that police discovered on Madsen's computer — scenes that his defence lawyer likened to deaths in the popular video game, Grand Theft Auto.

There was also a film clip that prosecutors believe shows an actual murder.

Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen arrives Monday for the final day of the case against Peter Madsen at the Copenhagen City Council in Denmark. (Nikolai Linares/Reuters)
The prosecutor is demanding a life sentence — a maximum that is not usually applied in Denmark, where most murderers receive less than 16 years.

Failing that, Jakob Buch-Jepsen asked the court to place Madsen in "safe custody," which allows for someone to be kept in jail as long as experts agree that they pose a danger to society.

Madsen stands in his submarine in April 2008. (Niels Hougaard /Ritzau via AP)
"He is a dangerous man," Buch-Jepsen told the judge, alleging he planned to torture and murder Wall "with great pleasure."

A psychiatric report submitted to the court said Madsen shows "psychopathic tendencies," and is "emotionally impaired" when it comes to showing empathy, anger or guilt. His defence lawyer says the assessment was rushed and needs to be redone.

Police technicians board Madsen's submarine on a pier in Copenhagen harbour on Aug. 13, 2017. The prosecution is demanding that the sub be dismantled if Madsen is found guilty in Kim Wall's death. (Jacob Ehrbahn/Ritzau Foto, File via AP)
Prosecutors made one additional demand today — that the court confiscate the submarine.

Their proposal is to destroy the Nautilus, the world's largest privately built submersible, by "cutting it to bits and pieces."

Gonna getcha good

Celebrities are entitled to their opinions. Except, apparently, when it comes to liking Donald Trump.

Shania Twain has become the latest star to learn that lesson, issuing a multi-part Twitter apology for telling a British newspaper that she would have voted for Trump in 2016 if she were able.

Shania Twain backed away Monday from a statement to a British newspaper that she would have voted for Trump in 2016.
"Even though he was offensive, he seemed honest," the Canadian country music legend told the Guardian in an interview published yesterday.  

"Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn't be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don't want bullsh**. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?"

The remarks, made at the tail end of a lengthy discussion about her return to recording and touring after a 15-year absence, seemed clear enough, but the 52-year-old now calls them "awkward," saying she had been caught off guard by the question.

Twain's more nuanced take came a few hours after she started trending on social media, and before this morning's announcement that she will be hosting the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on CBC this Sept. 9.

The climb-down follows a now familiar celebrity template.

Nicole Kidman, who has both U.S. and Australian citizenship, faced a backlash after a January 2017 BBC interview in which she said that Americans need to support "whoever's the president."

Nicole Kidman said in a January 2017 BBC interview that Americans need to support 'whoever's the president.' (Richard Shotwell/Invision/The Associated Press)
The actor, who is married to country music star Keith Urban, quickly clarified her comments as being more "mom and apple pie" than political. "I was trying to stress that I believe in democracy and the American Constitution," she said.

Kanye West received endless grief for pro-Trump tweets and statements during the 2016 campaign, capped by a meeting with the president-elect in New York City. "I feel it is important to have a direct line of communication with our future President if we truly want change," he said at the time.

Donald Trump and musician Kanye West met at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Dec. 13, 2016.
But the mercurial star deleted all evidence of his Trump support just a few weeks later, saying he was unhappy with the president's policies. Although West, who recently returned to Twitter after a year-long break, appears to be again flirting with Trumpism.

The singer Pink sparked outrage when she said the U.S. president was "doing a terrible job," but held out hope that he might change. She later took to Twitter to clarify that she didn't vote for him, and found his behaviour appalling.

Steve Harvey caught flak for meeting with Trump in early 2017, and then expressed hurt at the blowback.

Trump and television personality Steve Harvey speak to reporters after their meeting at Trump Tower on Jan. 13, 2017, in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Lindsay Lohan received unrestrained criticism for telling social media users to "stop bullying" the world's most powerful man. (More recently, she appears to have started trolling Trump, sending him links to an online lawyer referral service that she shills for.)

Roseanne Barr, whose rebooted television character supports Trump as she does in real life, is one of the few celebrities to express full-throated support for the president.

Both Roseanne Barr and her television character are vocal supporters of Donald Trump. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Although in her case, the controversy resulted in a payoff rather than a punishment.

Over its first few weeks, Roseanne was the No. 1 show on U.S. television, and it has already been renewed for a second season.

A ratings renaissance that Donald Trump has been quick to take credit for, even if the show's creator disagrees.

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Quote of the moment

"I was wrong."

- Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia hands in his resignation today, following 11 days of street protests. The 63-year-old, who had just finished his second term as the country's president, was appointed to the job by parliament — a move that was widely perceived as an attempt to thwart constitutional term limits.

Serzh Sargsyan resigned as prime minister of Armenia on Monday. (Ron Sachs/Getty Images)

What The National is reading

  • Prince William, Duchess of Cambridge welcome baby boy (CBC)
  • South Korea silences propaganda loudspeakers at the DMZ (NY Times)
  • City of Vancouver formally apologizes to Chinese community for past discrimination (CBC)
  • Trump blamed as U.S. colleges lure fewer foreign students (Politico EU)
  • World War Two heroine 'angel of Dieppe' dies at 103 (BBC)
  • Far-right protesters attack migrants on Greek isle (Al Jazeera)
  • Scottish man who filmed his dog giving Nazi salutes fined £800 (Guardian)
  • China set to open world's longest sea bridge (Sydney Morning Herald)

Today in history

April 23, 2000: Mourning Al Purdy

Canada's lion of poetry couldn't explain why he wrote, it was simply a compulsion. A high-school dropout, RCAF vet, then factory worker, he found his literary voice relatively late in life. But over his last 56 years, he published 39 books of poetry, a novel and two memoirs. And Purdy won the acclaim he deserved, but hardly endured.

Mourning Al Purdy

22 years ago
Duration 3:04
Canadians remember the life of legendary poet Al Purdy. 3:04

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Jonathon Gatehouse

CBC Investigative Journalist

Jonathon Gatehouse has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, covering seven Olympic Games and authoring a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey. He works for the national investigative unit in Toronto.