Olof Palme Who Killed Sweden’s Prime Minister

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Olof Palme Who Killed Sweden’s Prime Minister

On a Friday night more than thirty years ago, Sweden’s prime minister went to the movies.

Controversial and outspoken at home and abroad, Olof Palme was by then in his second term as leader of his country. But he still insisted on living as normal a life as he could, and – as on that night – he often dismissed his police protection.

Walking home just before midnight with his wife Lisbet, the prime minister was shot in the back at point blank range. He was dead before he hit the ground.

No killer has ever been found, even though the assassination took place on Sweden’s busiest road, and more than a dozen witnesses saw the tall man fire the shots before fleeing the scene.

Now, more than 34 years later, Sweden’s Prosecutor’s Office has announced it will present the conclusions of its criminal investigation in a press conference scheduled for Wednesday morning.

“I am optimistic about being able to present what happened with the murder and who is responsible for it,” Chief Prosecutor Krister Petersson told Swedish public television in February.

It is not known if anyone will be charged, or if a new suspect will be named. But there is hope the police may finally be close to solving a murder that has haunted the country for decades, and spawned countless conspiracy theories.

“It’s like if they murdered Margaret Thatcher at Piccadilly Circus – just gunned her down – and then the killer disappeared down into the Tube without ever being found,” Dr Jan Bondeson, author of Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme, told the BBC.

Marten Palme, Olof’s son and one of the last people to see him alive, said earlier this year that police “have evidence they do not yet want to disclose”.

He thought it might be to do with the murder weapon, which has never been found. “If someone knows something important and has not come forward, it is obviously time to do it,” he told Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper.

Who was Olof Palme?

Born in 1927 to an upper class family with aristocratic connections, Palme joined the Social Democratic party in 1949 and rose to lead the party – and Sweden – in 1969, succeeding his mentor Tage Erlander.

“Palme is said to be one of Erlander’s boys,” Anna Sundstrom, Secretary General of the Olof Palme International Center, told the BBC. “He was sort of raised as a politician by Tage Erlander, who is one of the fathers of the Swedish welfare system. I would say he took and advanced Erlander’s policies.”

https://www.bbc.com

During his premiership, Palme increased the power of labour unions, greatly expanded health care and the welfare state, removed all formal political powers from the monarchy and invested heavily in education. Ms Sundstrom said one of the vital reforms was the creation of nurseries and pre-schools, allowing women to enter the work force for the first time and advancing gender equality in Sweden.

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He was also a powerful voice in international affairs, criticising both the US and the Soviet Union. Palme passionately opposed the USSR’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and in 1972 compared US bombing of North Vietnam with Nazi concentration camps during World War Two – prompting a brief freeze in relations between Washington and Stockholm.

“I don’t regret it because in this world you have to speak out fairly loud to make anyone listen,” he told the New York Times in 1973. “I can’t keep silent on this issue and won’t be pressurised into silence.”

Olof Palme Who Killed Sweden’s Prime Minister

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