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CRIME

Sweden mourns death of Anna Lindh ten years on

A decade on from Lindh's assassination her life and legacy is being celebrated in a series of events and a new documentary about her career and premature death.

Sweden mourns death of Anna Lindh ten years on

For Swedes, September 11th 2003 is a date etched in their memory much like November 22nd 1963 is for Americans. Lindh, who was 46 when she was killed, was minister for foreign affairs and widely tipped to become Sweden’s first female prime minister.

“Of course Anna Lindh would have succeeded me,” said then Prime Minister Göran Persson in a new SVT documentary about Lindh.

IN PICTURES: See the life and times of Anna Lindh

But the events of September 10th and 11th changed all that and plunged her party, the Social Democrats, into a crisis from which they’ve arguably never recovered.

Lindh was stabbed while shopping for clothes in a Stockholm department store by Mijailo Mijailovic, a then 24-year-old Serb who has since renounced his Swedish citizenship. She succumbed to her injuries the following day in the first political assassination in Sweden since Olof Palme was gunned down in 1986.

Mijailovic, who stabbed Lindh repeatedly in the arms, chest and abdomen, had a history of psychiatric problems and claimed during his three trials that voices in his head told him to attack.

He later claimed he had made that up, and said he invoked the “nonsense” claim in the hopes of avoiding prison by being declared mentally unstable.

“I didn’t hear voices. That was nothing but empty talk,” Mijailovic, who is serving a life sentence, told the Expressen newspaper.

In a new documentary about Lindh to be aired on SVT on the 10th anniversary of her death, Persson admits he’d made his mind up on that fateful September 10th day that he was going to resign in 2004 with Lindh his chosen successor.

“Anna had got herself into a position in the party where she was a very bright shining star,” said Mona Sahlin, who took over from Persson instead, and led the party during its disappointing 2010 election loss.

“It’s not that the party would have taken a dramatically different direction or that Sweden would have been different. But it would have been a chance for the first woman leader, if she had started as prime minister, to be in a situation where she was regarded as increasingly obvious (to win the 2006 election),” said Sahlin.

IN PICTURES: See Monday’s memorial service in central Stockholm

Lindh’s death meant Persson, who described her murder as “beyond belief”, led the Social Democrats into the 2006 election defeat before stepping down in 2007.

“Sweden has lost one of its most important representatives. It feels unreal, it is difficult to truly understand,” said Persson in the wake of his colleague’s murder.

Much like Palme’s murder 17 years earlier, Lindh wasn’t protected by Sweden’s security service (Säpo) which considered her to be a low-risk target. Palme famously refused bodyguard protection on the night of his death.

The agency has since said they have learnt from Lindh’s assassination with increased security now the norm for all prominent Swedish politicians.

SVT’s documentary, made by Tom Alandh, also reveals her concerns for her family, and in particular her two sons.

However, those fears are unlikely to have deterred her from pursuing the highest office in the land according to a former colleague.

“She spoke reluctantly about it and that of what it could mean for the boys. Had she been asked (to be prime minister) then I think she would have been up for it,” said Jan Eliasson, former Swedish ambassador to the United States in the documentary.

A memorial service for Anna Lindh took place in Katarina’s church in Stockholm’s Södermalm on Monday, attended by former prime minister Ingvar Carlsson, Mona Sahlin, and Benny Andersson from Abba. (See pictures from Monday’s memorial)

On Wednesday there will be an evening in her honour for the public taking place in Kungsträdgården in Stockholm, opposite the shopping mall Lindh was fatally attacked, starting at 6:30pm. Among those attending will be current Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Social Democratic leader Stefan Löfven, and former party

leader Mona Sahlin, with music provided by the Benny Andersson orchestra.

The SVT documentary “Anna Lindh 1957-2003” will air on September 11th at 8pm on SVT 1.

TT/The Local/pr/AFP

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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