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Copenhagen: The mystery surrounding the fate of Swedish journalist Kim Wall has deepened with the discovery of a headless body in the Baltic Sea near where she is believed to have died on a homemade submarine.

The female torso without legs, arms or a head was found by a member of the public, said the head of the Danish police investigation, Jens Moller Jensen.

“We have recovered the body … It is the torso of a woman,” Jensen told media. “An inquest will be conducted.”

He said it was “too early” to say if the body was that of 30-year-old Swedish reporter Wall, who went missing more than a week ago after a trip on the submarine owned by 46-year-old Peter Madsen, a Danish inventor.

Jensen said the body was discovered hours after Madsen told authorities that Wall had died on board in an accident, and that he buried her at sea at an unspecified location.

Madsen was arrested in connection with Wall’s disappearance after his submarine sank off Denmark’s eastern coast, an incident police believe was deliberate.

He denied any wrongdoing and initially told authorities he had dropped the reporter off on a island in Copenhagen’s harbour on August 10.

Madsen will continue to be held on preliminary manslaughter charges, police said.

Madsen was known for financing his submarine project through crowdfunding. The first launch of his 40-tonne, nearly 18-metre-long UC3 Nautilus in 2008 made international headlines.

Wall’s family earlier told The Associated Press that she had worked in many dangerous places as a journalist and it was unimaginable “something could happen … just a few miles from the childhood home”.

Before his arrest, Madsen appeared on Danish television to discuss the submarine’s sinking and his rescue. The submarine was found 22 feet below sea level and was brought ashore shortly after it sank.

It was the journalist’s boyfriend who alerted authorities that the sub had not returned from a test run, police said.

Wall’s disappearance has riveted Scandinavia with the latest development raising more questions than it answers.

Madsen is due again in court next month. His lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, told the Danish television network TV2 that her client was cooperating with police investigators and that he maintained that he was not guilty.

Madsen is known in Denmark as “Rocket Madsen,” an uncompromising builder of submarines and space rockets who was hoping to become the world’s first amateur space traveller riding in a homemade rocket.

For years he was able to build a community that offered helping hands and raised funds for his projects. But his temper caused conflicts with many of them, Thomas Djursing, a biographer, told BT, a Danish newspaper.

“He argues with every Tom, Dick and Harry,” Djursing said. “I’ve argued with him as well. But that’s what it’s like with people driven by deep passion.”

Wall’s friend and fellow journalist Victoria Greve, writing in the Swedish daily Expressen, commented on how improbable it was that a short day trip to Denmark would end up being the last reporting trip of her friend’s career.

“There’s a dark irony in Kim, who travelled to North Korea and reported from Haiti, should disappear in Denmark,” she wrote. “Perhaps it speaks to the vulnerability of female freelance journalists. To work alone and do everything.”

AP and the New York Times

Henry Sapiecha

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