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Reporter vanishes; owner of amateur-built sub held

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Danish court ordered the owner of an amateur-built submarine Saturday held in pretrial detention for 24 days while police investigate the disappearance of a Swedish journalist who had been on the ship before it sank.

Peter Madsen was arrested Friday on preliminary manslaughter charges, hours after his 40-ton, nearly 160-footlong submarine sank off Denmark’s eastern coast.

The inventor, who is from Denmark, has denied responsibility for the fate of 30-yearold Kim Wall, saying the journalist disembarked before his vessel went down.

Judge Kari Soerensen announced the ruling after a private two-hour custody hearing.

Madsen’s defense lawyer, Bettina Hald Engmark, said her client maintains his innocence. He is “willing to cooperate” and hasn’t decided whether to appeal the detention ruling, Hald Engmark said.

Before the hearing was closed, the courtroom was packed with Danish and Swedish reporters and Madsen’s relatives. Madsen, 46, smiled and chatted with his lawyer.

“I would very much like to express myself,” he said after the preliminary charges were read.

Prosecutor Louise Pedersen said Madsen faces the preliminary manslaughter charge “for having killed in an unknown way and in an unknown place Kim Isabell Frerika Wall of Sweden sometime after Thursday 5 p.m.”

Wall’s boyfriend alerted authorities early Friday that the sub, named the UC3 Nautilus, had not returned to Copenhagen as expected. The Danish navy began a search involving two helicopters, three ships and several private boats. The navy said the sub was seen sailing, but then sank shortly afterward.

Kristian Isbak, who had responded to the navy’s call to help locate the ship on Friday, said he first spotted Madsen standing wearing his trademark military fatigues in the submarine’s tower while it was still afloat.

“He then climbed down inside the submarine and there was then some kind of air flow coming up and the submarine started to sink,” Isbak said. “[He] came up again and stayed in the tower until water came into it” before swimming to a nearby boat as the submarine sank, he added.

Madsen told authorities he had dropped Wall off on an island in Copenhagen’s harbor a few hours into their Thursday night trip.

“It is with great dismay that we received the news that Kim went missing during an assignment in Denmark,” her family said in statement.

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