• Sweden edition
 
REMEMBERING OLOF PALME
Unsolved Palme murder still hurts after 25 years

Unsolved Palme murder still hurts after 25 years

Published: 28 Feb 2011 07:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Feb 2011 07:46 GMT+01:00

Twenty-five years have passed since Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was gunned down on an icy sidewalk in central Stockholm, but with no end to the probe in sight, the murder remains an open wound in Sweden.

"It has been a very long time since it happened, but at the same time, it feels like it is still very close," says Joakim Palme, who was 27 when his father was shot and killed on February 28, 1986.

"It is very difficult that there has never been any judicial end point, or closure," he told AFP.

Behind a red, double-vaulted door several floors underground in the Stockholm police headquarters, 225 metres of bookcases that line the concrete walls filled with 3,600 folders make up the archives on the investigation so far into the murder.

According to Stig Edqvist, who has led the Palme murder investigation for the past 14 years, around 130 people have confessed to the crime and some 450 guns have been test shot to see if they match two bullets found at the scene.

Hundreds of thousands of tips have come in over the years and a handful keep coming in each week on the case, which would have been filed away for good Monday if Sweden last year had not scrapped its 25-year statute of limitations on murder.

"We have to be realistic. After 25 years, it is obviously a difficult case to solve, but I still hope we will manage," Edqvist says standing between rows of neatly tagged brown cardboard folders.

Gunnar Wall, a journalist who has written two books about the case, is harsh in his assessment.

"After 25 years of investigating this, basically we still know nothing," he laments.

Palme did not have a bodyguard with him on the night he and his wife Lisbeth were walking along the busy Sveavägen towards their home in the Old Town after a spontaneous trip to a downtown Stockholm cinema.

A gunman came up from behind and shot him twice in the back. Lisbeth was also grazed by a bullet.

The man ran off, taking his .357 Magnum revolver with him and leaving Palme in a pool of blood on the snow-covered sidewalk at the corner of what has since been renamed Olof Palme Street. The gun has never been recovered.

The murder sent shockwaves through Sweden, which is often said to have "lost its innocence" that day.

"The murder changed the way we perceive politicians," says Jens Orback, the head of the Olof Palme International Centre.

"Olof Palme said once he wanted to be listed in the telephone catalogue just like everyone else... to connect with people without being encircled by guards. But as we have seen, that is not always possible," he tells AFP.

That trauma of Palme's murder was relived again in 2003 when Sweden's hugely popular foreign minister Anna Lindh was stabbed to death while shopping -- also without bodyguards -- at a Stockholm department store by a man with a history of mental illness.

"A certain innocence has been lost," says Wall, pointing out that "people no longer expect as much from police or the courts."

The Palme investigation was a mess from the start.

"A lot went wrong," acknowledges Edqvist, pointing out that the attempts to cordon off the murder scene "were ridiculous."

News footage from the time shows shocked and crying onlookers crowded almost within touching distance of the red-stained snow, with a mountain of roses towering nearby.

Then there was the politically-connected police chief with no experience investigating murder initially placed in charge of the probe.

"I think the government wanted him in charge because they were worried sensitive information would emerge," Wall says, pointing out that "Palme was very controversial."

A left-wing activist in his youth, Palme infuriated Washington with his outspoken criticism of the US war in Vietnam.

He backed communist governments in Cuba and Nicaragua, spoke out against apartheid and nuclear power, and advocated redistribution of wealth, and some charged he was paving the way for a Soviet invasion of Sweden.

Investigators suspected the Turkish Kurd rebel group PKK, the Swedish military and police and the South African secret service, but were accused of dragging their feet on leads that could damage Palme's reputation, including the possible connection to his role in a major weapons deal between Swedish company Bofors and the Indian army.

Palme's family meanwhile remain convinced they know who did it.

Christer Pettersson, a petty criminal and an alcoholic and drug addict, was identified by Palme's widow in a widely-criticised line-up nearly three years after the murder, and was convicted of the crime in July 1989.

He was however set free months later by an appeals court due to lacking evidence, and the Supreme Court never agreed to hear the case against Pettersson, who suddenly died in 2004.

"I myself am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Christer Pettersson," Joakim Palme tells AFP, saying of all the disappointments in the case, he is most upset that the courts failed to convict Pettersson.

"It is devastating that no one was ever punished for such a serious crime," he says.

AFPs Nina Larsson

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

08:50 February 28, 2011 by UScitizen
Even though Palme and I were far apart politically, there's nothing good about a Country's leader being gunned down like that. It's happened too many times in America. May he rest in peace...
11:23 February 28, 2011 by johnny1939
for me it is a day of celebration. Only God knows where Sweden would have been

today if he had lived. I think it would have been far worse than it is today.
13:13 February 28, 2011 by Gabin
Today is a day of meditation.

Olof will stay in our hearts.
14:16 February 28, 2011 by Syftfel
I agree with #1 above. It is worth remembering however that this Prime Minister was part of a socialist aristocracy which strongly believed in the Orwellian doctrine that some(the social dem party hacks) are more equal than others. He either didn't realize it, or refused to acknowledge it, that many more lives have been sacrificed on the altar of socialism, than any other idiology, nazism included. 65 million people were killed by the Chinese communists since 1949. The socialist monsters of Pol Pot have been well documented, by mountains of sculls still left to bee seen by anyone who visits Cambodja. And this piece of marxist refuse, socialist Palme, marched with North Vietnam against the, bastion of democracy, the U.S.??? And if that isn't enough, Stalin is proof positive that that socialism is the most destructive ideology in the history of mankind, and has to be the greatest moral fraud ever committed against humanity. Left wing genocide has left the world with many more corpses than anything else. Ever. And you want to celebrate this thing?? Whose buddies were Walter Ulbricht, Castro and petty thief and murderer Che Guevara??? I think you people on the left need to re-think this and put things in perspective. Yes, his murder in the street hurts, but the demise of his socialist philosophies does not. Swedish media are only perpetuating the disconnect between the Swedish people and liberal socialism. All he deserves is a footnote in history.
16:23 March 5, 2011 by Britt-Marie7
Well said Syftfel!
Today's headlines
Zlatan scores hat trick in PSG thrashing
Photo: AP

Zlatan scores hat trick in PSG thrashing

Champions Paris Saint-Germain thumped Saint-Etienne 5-0 as Bordeaux saw their 100 percent record at the start of the Ligue 1 season ended on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against Bastia. READ  

Sweden reports suspected case of Ebola
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden reports suspected case of Ebola

Officials at a Stockholm hospital reported that they had found a suspected case of the Ebola virus on Sunday night. READ  

Flash floods cause chaos in southern Sweden
A car in Malmö on Sunday. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Flash floods cause chaos in southern Sweden

The Skåne region of southern Sweden was hit suddenly by extreme rains on Sunday morning, with houses flooded, buses evacuated, and people having to swim to safety from their cars. READ  

Fit-again Ibrahimovic set for PSG return
Photo: TT

Fit-again Ibrahimovic set for PSG return

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to make his comeback for Paris Saint-Germain against Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Sunday after two weeks on the sidelines with an abdominal muscle injury. READ  

Military raises readiness level over Ukraine
Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan. File photo: Magnus Lindstedt/Armed Forces

Military raises readiness level over Ukraine

The Swedish military said Saturday it had increased intelligence gathering and called in extra staff to its headquarters over the crisis in Ukraine, as the prime minister compared Russia's current behaviour with the Cold War. READ  

Police injured in anti-Nazi protest in Stockholm
Police and demonstrators on Saturday. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

Police injured in anti-Nazi protest in Stockholm

Swedish police said three officers were injured Saturday as they faced a crowd of thousands protesting against a neo-Nazi rally in central Stockholm. READ  

Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake

A boy scheduled to be vaccinated against mumps, measles, and rubella instead received a vaccine against cervical cancer. His family has now reported the blunder for inspection. READ  

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency
Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency

The Swedish government has announced that it will increase funding to the jobs agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) in 2015, primarily to cover personnel costs but also to prevent long-term unemployment. READ  

Police 'powerless' against street racers
Police on E4 highway. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police 'powerless' against street racers

Stockholm police said they were powerless to react when streetracers took over at "insane speeds" on a large highway on Friday night. READ  

Saab carmaker wins receivership
Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Saab carmaker wins receivership

After initial rejection, a Chinese-owned company set up to take over Saab's assets after the troubled Swedish carmaker's bankruptcy said on Friday it had succeeded in being placed in receivership. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Tech
Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year
Politics
How immigration became a key election issue
Society
Brit's life in Sweden becomes BBC radio show
Gallery
People-watching August 27
Gallery
Top ten false friends in Swedish
Blog updates

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 

25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Society
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Politics
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
National
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
Society
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
National
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Gallery
People-watching August 22-24
National
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
National
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Gallery
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
Society
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
Gallery
See the destruction from the southern Sweden floods
Politics
'Sweden Democrats hold the key to elections'
Society
Swedes celebrate first day of smelly fish season
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

732
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se