Agent Majid Hussein was lured by an Iraqi temptress to the Domus Hotel in Stockholm, where he was killed. Police have believed from the outset that the killing was ordered by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The man now in police custody is suspected of involvement in setting up the crime: “I contend that he brought together the so-called temptress and the soon-to-be victim,” said prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand.
The man was remanded in custody in Stockholm on Friday. News agency TT reports that the man was arrested on Wednesday.
The man’s arrest follows fresh appeals by Swedish security service Säpo for new evidence in the case: prosecutors’ deadline to press charges runs out in two years.
Majid Hussein defected to Sweden after previously serving as an agent for the Iraqi dictator. His body was found in March 1985 in Grödinge, near Södertälje, south of Stockholm. The remains had been cut into 48 pieces and stuffed into two suitcases.
The man arrested this week came to Sweden in 1979. He is being held ‘on probable cause’, a legal term meaning the evidence against him is considered compelling. Despite this, Lindstrand was emphasizing on Friday that the investigation was at a sensitive stage, saying that the fact that the murder took place 23 years ago meant “the evidence is by no means simple.”
A warrant for the arrest of the alleged temptress, who went by the false name Jamila al-Shafej, was put out in December 1985.
The woman claimed to be from Lebanon, but the address on her false Lebanese passport does not exist. She left Sweden on January 10th 1985 and flew to Casablanca via Copenhagen. It is not known what then happened to her. According to the false passport, she would be 55 today.
Prosecutors last month released a photograph of Jamila al-Shafej. Officials circulated the picture to Iraqi newspapers and around the Iraqi community in Sweden in the hope of securing new evidence.
Lindstrand says the appeal brought in new information about the woman “but we don’t have an extradition warrant ready to go.” He said the woman’s location had still not been established.
Swedish-Kurdish author Kurdo Baksi has campaigned for action on the murder. He said on Friday that he was pleased by the progress.
“I am very pleased that the most barbaric murder on Swedish territory is on its way to being solved. Today is a great day,” he said.
Baksi has formally accused Iraq’s former information minister Mohammed Said al-Sharif – nicknamed Baghdad Bob and Comical Ali for his media performances in the 2003 Iraq war – of involvement in the murder. Sharif was Iraqi Ambassador in Stockholm at the time of the killing.