The Danish inventor jailed for the gory murder of a journalist on his home-made submarine was surrounded by snipers after trying to escape from prison today.
Peter Madsen forced his way out of the jail by taking a female psychologist hostage with what he claimed was a pistol, before threatening guards by saying he had a bomb, Danish media says.
He was later seen in the open, sitting upright by a roadside while wearing what looked like a belt, a few hundred yards from the prison in the Copenhagen suburbs.
Snipers had their guns trained on Madsen on the cordoned-off street while police negotiators arrived to confront the killer, who dismembered Swedish reporter Kim Wall after she boarded his submarine in 2017.
Around three hours after his escape, police announced the stand-off was over and that Madsen had been arrested and driven away.
Snipers point their guns at Peter Madsen as he sits on a roadside today after trying to escape from prison in Denmark
Madsen was surrounded by a massive police presence after trying to escape his life sentence for murdering journalist Kim Wall in 2017
Danish armed guards on the scene today after Peter Madsen dramatically tried to escape from his life sentence for the 2017 submarine murder
Danish inventor Peter Madsen (left) was jailed in 2018 for the gory murder of journalist Kim Wall (right) on his submarine in a Copenhagen harbour
According to Extra Bladet, Madsen escaped from the prison by convincing guards that his gun was real and that the psychologist’s life was in danger.
Prison official Bo Yde Sorensen said Madsen was ‘armed with a pistol-like object’ and said guards were right to lock him out of the jail because there was an ‘obvious risk to life’.
‘It was very violent and the staff therefore choose to back off. We guess it was a dummy,’ he told BT.
What happened to the hostage is not clear, but Madsen was surrounded on the roadside grass after allegedly telling officers he was wearing an explosive device.
One witness said that Madsen had been wrestled out of a white police van and thrown to the ground amid shouting and screaming outside the prison.
Police dogs and bomb disposal experts equipped with a robot were on the scene as authorities assessed Madsen’s threat.
Later, he was taken back to a van and driven away but police have not revealed whether his threats were genuine.
Danish media said Madsen has previously been kept in isolation at the Herstedvester prison because guards suspected he would try to escape from one of the country’s famously relaxed jails.
After Danish authorities initially refused to confirm his identity, police told news agencies that the man involved in the stand-off was Madsen.
The area remained blocked off after Madsen was driven away as police continued to investigate his escape.
One witness told Politiken: ‘It’s horrible and strange that he has been able to escape from a prison where there are so many psychopaths.’
Madsen’s lawyer told Danish media she knew nothing about his escape attempt. A police press conference is due later.
Madsen, 49, was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 for killing, sexually assaulting and dismembering Wall after she boarded his submarine.
Police equipment on the ramp of a van during the Peter Madsen operation in Denmark today
Police officers stand by a cordon after Peter Madsen was surrounded by officers today
A view of the Herstedvester prison where Madsen has been serving his life sentence
Wall’s mutilated body was found in August 2017 after she boarded the home-made submarine in Copenhagen to research a piece on the eccentric inventor.
Police divers then recovered a weighted-down bag containing her head, other body parts and her clothes.
Madsen was rescued from waters between Denmark and Sweden shortly before his submarine sank.
Investigators later recovered and searched the sunken submarine.
Madsen changed his version of events several times, initially claiming Wall was alive and that he had dropped her off on a nearby island.
He later said she had hit her head on the submarine’s hatch, before changing tack again and claiming that she was suffocated by an accidental gas leak.
But forensic tests found that she had either been strangled or had her throat cut – and that around the time of her death, Madsen had stabbed her in her breasts and genitals with a knife or screwdriver.
Danish judge Anette Burkoe said it was a ‘cynical and planned sexual assault and brutal murder of a random woman, who in connection with her journalistic work had accepted an offer to go sailing in the defendant’s submarine’.
The home-made submarine ‘UC3 Nautilus’, which was built by Danish inventor Peter Madsen and is where he killed Kim Wall in 2017
In a documentary that aired in September, he confessed for the first time to the killing, after having insisted during the trial that her death was an accident.
‘There is only one who is guilty, and that is me,’ Madsen said in the documentary.
Life sentences in Denmark usually mean 16 years in prison, but convicts are reassessed to determine whether they would pose a danger to society if released.
Danish jails are also known for their less-than-punishing conditions, with most inmates kept in open prisons.
Prisoners receive wages for at least 37 hours of work, are eligible for sick pay and can watch television, play games and cook their own meals. They can also continue to vote in elections.
Some prisoners are eligible to leave and see their family as often as every three weeks, although not if they are considered a flight risk.
One report on the Danish prison system said that only 0.1 per cent of prison leave led to the inmate re-offending.
A Washington Post report in 2016 found that guards did not search inmates or visitors for drugs despite knowing they were being smuggled in.
Knives and vegetable peelers that had been used to attack other prisoners were merely anchored to a cell wall rather than being removed, the report said.
‘Conditions in the prison must, as far as possible, reflect the conditions in the society outside,’ the Danish prison service says on its website.