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Peter Madsen sentenced to life for murdering journalist Kim Wall (theguardian.com)
50 points by robin_reala 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments

"They called for a life sentence, which in Denmark averages around 16 years and is very rarely handed down for the murder of a single person."

What does this mean exactly? That people usually get paroled after 16 years? Or does it mean that the average sentence is 16 years when life is requested?

The number seems to come from Wikipedia[1]:

Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment serve an average of 16 years, more for cases considered to be particularly grave. The only example in modern times of an individual serving significantly more than 16 years in prison is Palle Sørensen, who served 33 years for a quadruple police murder.

So I guess it's a parole, then (which cannot happen until 12 years into the sentence).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_imprisonment_in_Denmark

>served 33 years for a quadruple police murder.

>Despite being a peaceful prisoner, he was considered the most dangerous convict in Denmark for many years, and police unions pressured the authorities to grant him neither parole nor pardon.

In Scandinavia cops get their own separate justice system too.

If you know someone murdered 4 people, does them being on good behavior in front of you really make you consider them peaceful?

Compared to the other murderers? I don't see why not.

The averages very strongly suggest that he spent an unusually long time in prison because he killed cops, of course I may be missing out on some key details here.

"I always kept my cell neat, and they never called me Palle the Clean. I always kept out of fights, and they never called me Palle the Peaceful.. But you murder four police ONE TIME..."

That page doesn't have a single source, which is very strange. Normally when I read Wikipedia, I see [citation needed] flags everywhere.

The first one. Life sentence is open-ended which means he could in principle remain in prison for the rest of his life. But usually they are pardoned before this, so the 16 years is the average sentence in reality. But this does not mean he can expect to be pardonned after 16 years - this very much depends on the individual case.

From the BBC coverage:

> Danish inventor Peter Madsen has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his submarine.

So I'm not sure he will be paroled after ~16 years?


The Wikipedia page posted in a sister comment https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_imprisonment_in_Denmark says (emphasis mine): "In Denmark, a life sentence (Livsvarigt fængsel in Danish) theoretically means life without parole: that prisoners will spend the rest of their lives in prison. However, prisoners are entitled to a pardoning hearing after 12 years, and [...] the Danish King or Queen may grant a pardon, subject to a 5-year probationary period."

So no parole but a pardon.

Is "pardon" really the best translation for "prøveløsladelse"? I think "parole" is more appropriate.

The queen can grant a pardon, but that is separate from the parole hearings. Pardon means the convicted is absolved of the crime, parole just means the convicted is released before time. Or do I have it backwards?

I don't know, Wikipedia might not be using the correct words. But if a life sentence is really always "without parole", then there cannot be parole hearings as such. Maybe "probation" would be another term that goes in the right direction...

Life sentences are all officially without parole, but have pardoning hearings after twelve years.

There is no such thing a life without parole in Denmark. He will be eligible for parole after 12 years, but no guarantee he will actually get it.

"Life" is completely devoid of meaning then.

True, if you get a life sentence in Denmark you will most like be free quicker than someone getting fixed sentence for somewhere between 12 - 18 years.

It should be noted that that if you kill a police office and get a life sentence, the you will stay in prison for a VERY long time.

That is not true. If you get 12 to 18 years, you can get parole after 6 to 9 years. The earlies you can get out with a life sentence is 12 years.

Police officers > Citizens

Well no, that's not really the point, at least in Denmark. A murder is a murder regardless of the victim, but the murder/attack on a police officer is an attack on the state (The police being the organisation through which the government exercises power, in some areas).

What happens if one hits a flower pot on the balcony with their elbow and it falls on a police officer's head... attack on the state or not?

That's hardly a murder, no?

I'd been following Madsen before the Kim Wall murder. He founded the Copenhagen Suborbitals, a (now estranged) group of very successful rocket amateurs, and he built several working submarines. I have always been impressed by his zeal and his skill to use people to help build the stuff he envisioned.

On one occasion, they used one of the submarines to drag a rocket launch platform into the ocean. How cool is that! Using your self-built submarine to launch your self-built rocket into the stratosphere.

That said, the case seems pretty clear from the outside. I have no idea why he thougt he could get away with this.

Rather than asking how he thought he’d get away, I would ask: why the fuck would anyone think it’s okay to kill someone? (excluding self-defense scenarios)

He is clearly a psychopath. So to you and me, it's impossible to understand but my best guess is that he would feel something similar to what we might feel "killing" a character in a video game: no compassion, just a curious interest.

I think it goes beyond neutrality, or curiosity. Some seem to have a rather urgent drive towards it. In this case it seems like there's a sexual element as well.

Aside from the vehement distaste I feel towards these abominations, they're also fascinating, in that they seem alien to me.

How does one come about? Does it feel and think as I do? How different is its experience of the world as compared to mine? Is it different on the same level as the hypothetical difference in perception between the sexes? Or is it further removed—as the perception of the world would be different for a bat, say.

Does it have a purpose in nature to perform some kind of function? Or is it a failed experimentation (mutation) on nature's part; over-optimizing certain things leading to "unintentional" suboptimization of other things? Or has it more to do with nurture rather than nature?

The fascination is directly proportional to how hard it is to comprehend this.

He did go through a physiological test and the report says he is sane and do not qualify the definition of psychological ill, but then the report says in the next meaning he is a psychopath with narcissistic behavior, pathological lies and with a severe sexual deviation.

Trying to understand why a sane person would commit such crime is impossible, so I personally consider that what we have heard and seen is not the behavior of a sane person. Trying to frame it like a video game is trying to impose rules of sanity to explain insanity.

From reading the coverage, I never got the impression that it was pre-meditated in so much as he lured her to his submarine to kill her.

I got the impression that it was a poorly covered up accident, or possibly the covering up of a failed sexual advance on her in the heat of the moment. I think he panicked after it had happened, or more likely after she was injured, and decided to cover it up by finishing her off and disposing of her body. I'm not sure he would have thought he could get away with it.

I agree with the sentencing, but I don't think this is as simple as him being a psycopath who wanted to kill someone. I don't think we have the full story.

The judge thought it was pre-meditated. He had extra tools on board of the sub, that usually stayed in his workshop. He had also contacted multiple women in the time up to the killing, asking them to go on a trip with him in the sub. The day before he killed, maimed, and dismembered Kim, he watched a genuine snuff film, on his computer, showing a woman getting killed.

He is up to something like three or four different explanations for an accident, and they have all been refuted by experts. Also his psyc evaluation concluded that he is a danger for others.

I'm sorry but I find your apologetic tone uncomfortable.

Ah, I seem to be very behind on the news coverage then! I didn't know about all that.

I remember it being unclear in the first week or two whether it had been an accident or not, followed by some sketchy details that implied it might have been a cover up. I have not heard much since.

Thanks for the heads up, I of course don't mean to be apologetic at all for the crime, I was surprised at what seemed to be a significant change from the direction the case had been progressing, but this sounds like I was misinformed.

The "accidental" explanations all sounded pretty implausible in the first place. She hit her head and he claims he thought the best thing to do was cut her up and try to hide the body.

There is evidence that it was premeditated. From the article:

> They [the jury] heard how he had joked about “a murder plan” involving tying up a woman on his submarine and slitting their throat with a knife in a set of messages sent to a friend, which he had subsequently tried to delete.

Ah yes, I am behind on news coverage. I was following the BBC who don't seem to have covered all the details. Sounds fairly conclusive then!

Considering he mentioned wanting to do exactly what he did (slit a woman's throat and kill her on his sub) before he ever met wall. I would go with it was premeditated. "They heard how he had joked about “a murder plan” involving tying up a woman on his submarine and slitting their throat with a knife in a set of messages sent to a friend, which he had subsequently tried to delete." Note, he tried to delete these.

He also changed his story multiple times. Beginning with dropping her off on shore alive, to dropping a hatch on her head and finally carbon-monoxide poisoning.

One of the reasons we don't have the full story is that Madsen has repeatedly lied about it, in ways that can be verified. The general drift of those lies has been to make it seem like an accident, so we can reasonably assume that the truth does not indicate that it was accidental.

Edit: Thanks to several people for pointing out large gaps in my knowledge of the case, sounds very much pre-meditated!

Same as Hans Reiser: "I am smart".

> That said, the case seems pretty clear from the outside. I have no idea why he thougt he could get away with this.

I'm not sure how you determined that? The article is light on details and it is not clear what Madsen defense is.

This is not the first article on the topic.

BBC has a little more detail: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43894495

>They called for a life sentence, which in Denmark averages around 16 years and is very rarely handed down for the murder of a single person.

So he will not be imprisoned for life, as is rare (unheard of?) in Scandinavian countries.

In Denmark, a life sentence is officially for life, without parole. However, convicts are eligible for a pardoning hearing after twelve years. Sixteen years is just the average served. But yes, it is rare to be imprisoned for longer.

In the U.S, there are people who serve decades for much less crimes than murder :(

Indeed. I find it particularly horrifying when it's people from other countries (e.g. Lauri Love), threatened with extradition and 99 years in a US jail, effective a genuine life sentence.

Probably not. The longest anyone have served is 33 years I believe. But one of the conditions for parole is that he must be deemed to not be a danger anymore.

People have been sitting for 30 years and more for a life sentence. First parole attempt at 12.

Its difficult for me to see how this is hacker related.

He built his own submarines, you could argue he has a bit of the hacker ethos in him.

This is news, but is it "news that good hackers would find interesting"? Does it belong on this site?

Someone else mentioned Hans Reiser, and it's on Hacker News for the same reason. Peter Madsen is very much so a hacker. but with submarines and rockets.

You do have a point though, the only reason that some many is interested, is because the whole thing happened in a submarine. I doubt that it would make the headlines around the world if he killed her in the back of a van.

It's about a well-known and formerly respected hacker.


Please don't do this here.

As it made it into the top ten, I would say it belongs by definition. You will have to look elsewhere for a curated site having an editorial policy that aligns precisely with your expectations.


When you are an engineer, you can oftentimes get deluded about how "normal" people think and worse yet, treat all situations in life to be problems to be solved and systems to optimize. This might even include murder and thinking one could get away with it.

While I think everyone would agree that as an engineer you may look at things in a different light this does not explain it.

Let’s not make this about engineering. This is a psycho that deserves to be isolated from society for what he did.

How would he be optimizing by slitting a woman's throat and dismembering her body? She seems.... less optimized.

Depends for what. Transportation is more efficient.

He messed that up to, she was far more mobile when being able to walk herself somewhere.

I meant more in a suitcase but sure :-)

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