LATEST: Slain psychiatrist 'was intended target' of Almedalen knife attack

The Local Sweden
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LATEST: Slain psychiatrist 'was intended target' of Almedalen knife attack
A woman was stabbed in the central square in Visby, the main city on the island of Gotland. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The leading Swedish psychiatrist who was stabbed to death at the Almedalen political festival on Wednesday was targeted "for her public engagement in psychiatric issues", the prosecutor in the case has said.


A 32-year-old with a background in the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) stabbed Dr Ing-Marie Wieselgren just before 2pm next to a terrace restaurant in the central square of Visby, the medieval capital of the Baltic island of Gotland. 

The 64-year-old was stabbed in the chest as she was on her way to moderate a seminar on children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses, she was given CPR until an ambulance arrived, and then taken to the Visby hospital, but died shortly afterwards. 

Petra Götell, the prosecutor in the case, told a news conference that there was no apparent connection to the far-RIght and that the suspect had apparently acted alone.

“The man has given an explanation of his actions, and the connection with NMR is not a focus in the investigation, even though it merits investigation by other agencies,” she said. “We believe that the woman who was killed was the intended target of the attack, and that it was motivated by her public profile and her engagement in psychiatric issues.”

"There are reports of him suffering from mental health issues and that he committed the act under the influence of narcotics," Götell said.

The suspect's explanation suggested it was directed at "psychiatric care", she said.

The man’s lawyer, Staffan Fredriksson, has told Swedish media that the man admits to carrying out the attack, but would not confirm whether he also admits to committing a murder.

“My client is not well, and this could be the result of circumstances which I cannot go into.”


According to the Expo magazine, which monitors Swedish extremists, the attacker became a "support member" of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) in 2015, wrote several articles for the organisation's Nordfront newspaper, and took part in at least four of its marches between 2017 and 2018, after which he appears to have become less active. 
Dr Wieselgren was responsible for coordinating psychiatry services between Sweden's regional health authorities, and had worked throughout her life to communicate psychiatric issues to the public, speaking on Swedish radio and television, and publishing blogs and video posts. 
Hours before her death, she recorded and published a video clip in which she said, "However well we do in building our society, some people will have difficulties. Sometimes life is not so simple, it is not so nice to us". 
The Almedalen festival was founded by the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme in 1968, 18 years before he was assassinated, and is the highlight of the Swedish political year. It was disrupted by neo-Nazi NMR members in 2017 and 2018, but for it to suffer a violent attack threatens the closeness between political leaders and the public which is one of its most important qualities. 


Maria Arkeby, a witness, told the Expressen newspaper, that the attack had been "terrifying".
“I heard a scream, turned around and saw a man leave something lying on the ground, run around the corner from the terrace where this happened, and run up an alley," she said. "An upstanding civilian made chase, pushed him into the wall and brought him to the ground." 

The attack took place only moments before Annie Lööf, leader of the minority Centre Party, was due to give a press conference at a nearby venue. She was stopped from going up on stage by her bodyguard.

In her speech on Wednesday evening, Lööf held a minute's silence out of respect for the victim.

The festival, she said, would that evening be "a place for coming together and contemplation", rather than a place for "political gambits, conflicts, and hard words".


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