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Captain Torben Vang receives award for his work during search for murdered journalist

A unique collaboration between science and society has been honoured by the Anders Lassen Foundation; a foundation with its roots in the Danish special forces. The master of AU's research vessel, Torben Vang, has been lauded for his work with divers and the police in the investigation of the murder of journalist Kim Wall.

2019.03.15 | Rasmus Rørbæk

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik presented oceanographer and ship’s captain Torben Vang (centre) with the award from the Anders Lassen Foundation for his exceptional efforts during the investigation of the murder of the journalist Kim Wall. He is here, together with the head of the Danish special forces (Frømandskorpset), Commander Jens B. Bach (left), who recommended Torben Vang to the honour. (Photo: Anders Lassen Foundation).

"The ability to think out of the box and bring things together with input from other experts was of crucial for the success of the search, and for the subsequent conviction of Kim Wall’s killer."

This is part of the citation from the Anders Lassen Foundation for presenting the award to oceanographer and ship’s captain, Torben Vang from Aarhus University. He and three others received an honorary award from the Foundation for their unique collaboration, which was established in connection with the investigation of the murder of the Swedish journalist.

Calculations led to a breakthrough
Aarhus University's research vessel, Aurora, came to play a major role in the investigation of the death of the Swedish journalist, Kim Wall, in 2017.

The vessel was a base for police and divers, while Aurora and its crew helped in the investigation in Køge Bay. Captain Torben Vang was able to find the decisive piece of the jigsaw puzzle because of his extensive experience within marine currents and seabed morphology.

Together with oceanographer Morten Holtegaard Nielsen, he performed calculations that proved to be pivotal for the investigation on the basis of data from the other investigators and from a comprehensive network within the specialist area, which together showed the way to important finds for the police.

Aurora's instruments were also used to verify the oceanographers’ calculations of marine currents.

"We were part of very large and very important investigative work, and we were able to combine the historical data on current conditions in Køge Bay with the signs found by Swedish investigators and a number of other parameters. This made it possible to identify an area on the map, where we thought the divers might be able to find something important. It turned out to be true," explains Torben Vang and continues:

"I’m very humbled and grateful for the prize on my own behalf and on the behalf of the ship's crew and I’m very pleased with the way Aarhus University made it possible to sail over and take part in the investigation."

Aarhus University owns and operates the research vessel Aurora. Department head, Hans Brix, showed his understanding for the extraordinary situation, when he received the request to help with the investigation, and he decided to let Aurora sail across and help in the search in Køge Bay.

"It’s gratifying that the vessel and crew could contribute constructively to the investigation in this tragic case, and that academic understanding and knowledge could support the extensive work that took place in Køge Bay," says Hans Brix.

Praise for important efforts
The Anders Lassen Foundation is a non-profit foundation, named after one of Denmark's most decorated soldiers in allied service and among other things it aims to recognise and honour particularly heroic and extraordinary efforts to benefit the public interest. The citation for the award states:

"In summary, Torben Vang’s efforts were very important for Kim Wall's family and for the general sense of justice that a perpetrator will never go unpunished for murder in Denmark."

This point was taken up by the head of the Danish special forces (Frømandskorpset), Commander Jens B. Bach (left), who recommended Torben Vang for the award.

"In the shadow of this terrible incident, there is still hope and light. A killer tried to hide the truth about his actions under the sea. He did not succeed. Thanks to a unique focus, where so many groups came together and worked on the investigation, justice has prevailed."

The award includes a diploma as well as a financial gift and was presented by HRH Crown Prince Frederik on 7 March.

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