The decision by Lund district court surprised observers, after a series of experts had stated that Olsson was “seriously psychologically disturbed” at the time of the murders and had recommended secure psychiatric care.
But the court took the view that it had not been proven that Olsson was driven to kill by his psychological problems.
“For someone not to be sentenced to prison the bar is very high, and considering these extremely serious crimes the sentence can be nothing other than life imprisonment,” said the chief judge, Jan Alvå.
In March 1989 Helén Nilsson disappeared from near her home in Hörby, Skåne. Six days later her naked body was found in a plastic bag in a forest 25km from her home. In August of the same year Jannica Ekblad was found dead in a similar type of bag.
Forensic investigators took semen from Helén’s body but it wasn’t until last year that a new method of analysis was applied to the sample.
Ulf Olsson had been on the fringes of the investigation for years and was among a group of men whose DNA was compared to the sample earlier in the year. In July police announced that his DNA matched the sample and arrested him at his home in Småland.
The forensic evidence against Olsson was overwhelming. Traces of blood in a cottage he owned at the time, a hair found on tape used to wrap Helén’s body and semen found in Jannica Ekblad all pointed to his culpability, while anonymous letters and telephone calls revealed that Olsson could have tried to admit to the murders on up to ten occasions.
In December Olsson was found guilty of raping and killing Helén Nilsson but the verdict in the case of Jannica Ekblad was delayed while further DNA tests were carried out.
Throughout the trial, Olsson was uncooperative, either refusing to answer or claiming that he had no recollection of events around the time of the murders.
Reading out the court’s judgement on Wednesday morning, Jan Alvå said that Olsson was “strongly tied to the murder of Jannica”.
“Against the background of the fact that the messages did not include details of any other attacker or accomplice and that Olsson, who is not obviously suffering from memory loss, did not in the trial mention any such person, the court considers without doubt that he is also guilty of murdering Jannica Ekblad.”
Media commentators described the sentence as sensational but the chief prosecutor, Pär Andersson, told Aftonbladet he was not surprised.
“No, I’ve been demanding life imprisonment,” he said.
“My assessment is that the court has gone through the whole case most thoroughly, both when it comes to the question of responsibility and punishment.”
Andersson compared the life sentence with that handed down to Mijailo Mijailovic, the man who killed Sweden’s foreign minister Anna Lindh in September 2003.
As soon as the sentence was handed down, Ulf Olsson’s lawyer, Sven Jernryd, announced that he would appeal.
“He can’t get the care he needs in prison,” he said.