Most regard Sweden as one of the most progressive, free-thinking countries in the western world. So, when its Prime Minister, Olof Palme was shot to death outside a cinema in February 1986 the country’s shock and grief was all the more sharpened.
Despite the capture and jailing of the apparent assailant, he was released following a successful appeal. Now, thirty years later, a swarm of conspiracy theories surrounds the politician’s death. Who might have pulled the trigger? And on whose behalf? Was it a tragic case of mistaken identity? Or is it another event that suggests a very real dark world that exists behind the scenes of the world’s governments?
Fatal Last-Minute Plans!
Normally in cases of assassination of such high-ranking officials and politicians, the general rule of the conspiracy world is that somewhere along the way, a change in security or a last-minute change of plans normally provides a clue as to who might be pulling the strings of such deadly missions. However, in this case, it would appear those last-minute plans came from Palme, his wife, and his son and his girlfriend. And the security, or lack thereof, was at Palme’s request.
Earlier that evening, at around 5 pm on the 28th February 1986, Palme’s wife Lisbet Palme, would make plans with the couple’s son, Marten, on the phone while at work. They would mention the location of the Grand Cinema where they could see a film. Marten and his girlfriend already had tickets to see the comedy ‘The Mozart Brothers’. Lisbet would speak to Olof about ninety minutes later when they both arrived home. After speaking to his son, on the phone from the house, Olof would arrange for he and his wife to meet them at the cinema. Due to the last-minute nature of the plans and the close distance the station and then the cinema were, Olof would decline arranging extra security. At 8:30 pm, the pair would leave their apartment and head to Stockholm’s Radmansgatan station.
These could just be coincidence, and as we will examine later, one particular person of interest may prove Palme’s death to be exactly that. However, if there were details to be found here in these hastily arranged plans, it would suggest, as outrageous as it sounds, that one of those closest to Palme had started plans in motion. Investigators initially searched Palme’s home for evidence of hidden microphones and recording equipment. Their search, though, would discover nothing.
Approached From Behind And Shot At Point-Blank Range
After walking to the subway to go to Radmansgatan station, and walking from there to the Grand Cinema, it was just after 9 pm when the Palmes would arrive to meet their son and his girlfriend. Many residents would comment later to the media how they had remarked to each other of the complete lack of security surrounding the pair. Olof would go to purchase two tickets for him and his wife. However, he would receive the theatre director’s seats when the ticket clerk realized his identity.
They would enjoy the film and then by 11:15 pm the two couples stood outside the cinema saying their goodbyes. They then separated. Olof and Lisbet would head towards Hotorget station. They would cross at the Sveavagen (the main street in Stockholm), and after briefly pausing to look at a shop window display, continued on their way.
Then, at 11:21 pm, an unknown man approached the pair from behind. He would shoot Olof at point-blank range before firing at Lisbet. He would then run, calmly but steadily down Tunnelgatan Street.
Three minutes later a police patrol car arrived at the scene following reports of a shooting. Around a minute later, police cars on patrol in the city – particular those close to the shooting location – were put on alert to hunt and find the attacker. At the same time, an ambulance that was luckily in the area arrived at the scene.
While Lesbit wasn’t seriously hurt her husband was. At 11:28 pm, the ambulance contained Olof Palme, along with his wife who refused to leave him, left for Sabbatsberg Hospital in the Vasastan region of the city. It would arrive three minutes later. However, by six minutes past midnight, Olof Palme was dead.
Multiple Witnesses But No Real Detail!
Although there were 25 people who observed the incident, or at least the aftermath with the shooter running away, there was very little for police to go on. Most would describe the apparent assassin as around six feet tall and aged between 30 and 50-years-old. He sported a dark jacket and appeared to walk with a limp, according to some later statements, while others initially claimed he moved with a dark grace and authority.
However, none of the people who would give witness statements managed to get a detailed look at the man’s face. Nor could they point to anything unique that might help them identify him.
Initially, investigators would arrest Victor Gunnarsson, a political activist with ties to several extreme right-wing organizations. Both the police and the media knew of him. Furthermore, several of the groups with connections to Gunnarsson were openly hostile to Palme. Despite this, Gunnarsson would face no charges, partly due to a lack of evidence, and partly due to disagreement between the police and prosecutors on how to proceed.
Several years later, however, another arrest came. And while it would lead to a successful prosecution, that prosecution was quickly overturned. The events surrounding the arrest, though, may be more revealing than many would first think.
The Arrest, Conviction, And Successful Appeal Of Christer Pettersson
Almost three years after the murder of Olof Palme, came the arrest and charging of “career criminal”, Christer Pettersson with the Prime Minister’s death. As well as having connections to many known drug-dealers of the city (which may prove still to be of importance) he had previously served time in jail for manslaughter. Furthermore, Olof’s wife, Lesbit Palme, would pick him out an identification line-up.
It would seem that investigators had their man, and Pettersson was found guilty of the murder of Olof Palme and sentenced to life in Prison. However, the following year in 1989, he would win an appeal and the conviction was quashed, leaving police with an unsolved murder once more.
There were several reasons for the successful appeal. Firstly, police would face criticism for the arrangement of the identification line-up. So much so, that there was considerable doubt as to how reliable or accurate Lisbet Palme’s identification was. Secondly, there was no murder weapon located. And lastly, there was simply no obvious motive for Pettersson to have carried out the murder.
However, he would remain, if unofficially, a person of interest in the case. Rumors would surface persistently from mouths of those in the same criminal world as Pettersson that he was indeed Palme’s killer. However, due to the source and the differing details, there was nothing solid with which the police could act. Following a documentary in 2006 on the incident, though, two years following his death, further information on Pettersson would come to light.
Mistaken Identity And “Withdrawn” Police Presence
The aforementioned documentary would air on the Swedish television channel ‘SVT’. According to “associates” of Pettersson, he would claim that he was indeed the man who shot Olof Palme. However, he did not realize it was the Prime Minister. According to the account, the killing of Palme was a cruelly simple and tragic case of mistaken identity.
Pettersson had indeed gone to the area of Stockholm looking to shoot somebody that evening. However, his target was a local, but influential drug dealer named Sigvard Cedergren. Cedergren had a remarkable likeness for Palme, right down to the way he would dress and walk.
Many were critical of the documentary, and its conclusions. This version of events, however, does seemingly make more sense than a random attack. On a politician by a petty criminal with no apparent political allegiances no less. Unless, of course, as we will examine briefly in a moment, Palme was the intentional target by one of the world’s intelligence services. That would suggest that Pettersson was either unwittingly used by such services, or he acted knowingly, perhaps with huge monetary incentives. While all of this is speculation, when we look at the apparent police presence in the very area of Palme’s killing, we have to consider the involvement of some dark, shadowy government agencies.
It would appear that due to ongoing investigations into drug-dealing activity in the area, police were regularly monitoring that part of the city. Officers were based in apartment buildings on stakeouts while police units discreetly sat on several blocks around the location in question. However, 45 minutes before the murder, this presence suddenly ceased with all police immediately withdrawn.
Many Enemies In A Politically Right-Shifting Environment
If Palme’s death was the result of a planned assassination with the blame placed at the hands of a “lone wolf” gunman, then there were several people or organizations of interest to look at. While it is perhaps an extreme observation, in an era when such leaders and Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were the main voices on the world stage, a stage moving slightly more right of center than Palme’s ideology, his presence, political stances, and general ideology could prove to be stumbling blocks for those behind the leaders of the western world.
Some would claim that the blame for his death lay at the feet of one of several right-wing extremists. Despite several promising leads no arrests or charges would result from them. Some researchers would even site a growing resentment within some ranks of the Swedish police department in general. They would stop short of claiming the police themselves were to blame. However, the notion of hampering investigations into the death at the beginning is not so much of a reach.
Some claims would even draw connections to the situation in South Africa and the need to abolish apartheid. He had even given a key speech in support of the ANC and Nelson Mandela the week before his death. One particular claim is that his death was the result of South African government intelligence who were pro-apartheid. Again, such claims are more speculation, however, than fact.
Discovery Of International Bribery?
Other claims revolved around the increasing troubles in eastern Europe. Some would state that the Yugoslav secret services were behind the murder. And what’s more, they were looking to pin the blame on Croatian separatists. Kurdish dissidents also faced similar accusations for similar reasons. Further claims would place the blame for his death on the door of the CIA. Palme had allowed many left-wing Chileans who had fled their country to stay in Sweden. This following the apparent US-backed coup that would overthrow Salvador Allende in 1973.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing claims are those that Palme had evidence of a series of bribes. These occurred between a Swedish arms manufacturer and the Indian government – which of course would be highly illegal. The incident would drag on long after Palme’s death, largely referred to as the Bofors Scandal.
Palme would secure a deal for the Swedish company Bofors to supply the Indian army with military hardware. He had done so largely using his friendship with Indian politician, Rajiv Gandhi. Without his knowledge, however, high-ranking members of Bofors would use a third company, AE Services, to bribe Indian officials. Palme would discover the illegal deals on the day of his death. He was furious and would deal with it. If he did manage to end the deal and expose the bribery? Several individuals would lose millions if not billions in wealth. They would also very likely would face jail time.
Might Palme have been a victim of a last-minute assassination? Perhaps when we note the suppression of MI6 intelligence evidence by the Swedish police then we have to wonder.
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