After 34 Years, Olof Palme Gets Very Own Lee Harvey Oswald
Sweden's prime minister Olof Palme was assassinated in 1986, right in the middle of Stockholm, as he and his wife left a movie theater. Now, after all these years, a prosecutor who's been leading the investigation since 2017 announced that the case is now closed. At a news conference early this morning, Prosecutor Krister Petersson named a pretty-much-nobody guy as Palme's killer, and it wasn't even Woody Harrelson's dad. The announcement isn't likely to satisfy Swedish conspiracy theorists, who would far rather find evidence that Palme was maybe murdered by the CIA, South Africa, Kurdish separatists, or possibly Ted Cruz, the Zodiac Killer.
The likely assassin, Petersson said, was Stig Engstrom, a graphic designer known to assassination buffs as "Skandia man," for the insurance company where he worked. The company had offices near the theater where Palme was killed. Petersson said that while there was "reasonable evidence" — enough to arrest Engstrom, if he were still alive — that evidence "would not, in itself, lead to a conviction" without further physical evidence that simply isn't available after all this time. Engstrom killed himself in 2000 (or so they want you to believe), and Petersson said, "Because the person is dead, I cannot bring charges against him and have decided to close the investigation." He offered no motive for the murder, although Engstrom was known to disagree strongly with Palme's politics.
Olof Palme was the leader of Sweden's Social Democratic party, and served multiple terms as prime minister, from 1969-1976, and then again from 1982 until he was assassinated. He's often credited as the architect of Sweden's modern welfare state, and he frequently offered verbal support to revolutionary movements around the world. The New York Timesnotes that earned him
a long list of enemies, particularly in South Africa, where he was a determined foe of apartheid. At the height of the Cold War, he sought a "third way" between East and West, and he opposed the war in Vietnam.
Also, Yr Wonkette feels compelled to note this bit of trivia, although I no longer remember where I learned it: Palme had a small cameo role, as himself, in the 1967 artsy sex movie I Am Curious (Yellow), which I have never seen but remember being parodied in MAD magazine. The Source of All Knowledge says several Big Names were dragooned into the film under dubious circumstances:
The film includes an interview with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., filmed in March 1966, when King was visiting Stockholm along with Harry Belafonte with a view to starting a new initiative for Swedish support of African Americans. The film also includes an interview with then Minister of Transportation Olof Palme [...] who talks about the existence of class structure in Swedish society (he was told it was for a documentary film), and footage of Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.
You are now very ready for trivia night!
Reuters reports that Engstrom was "repeatedly questioned in early investigations but dismissed as a serious suspect at the time," and that he was fingered as the likely assassin in a 2018 book by journalist Thomas Pettersson, which resulted in this carefully explainy paragraph in the Times:
Mr. Pettersson, the journalist, found a link between the killer and a weapons collector, a former military man who detested Mr. Palme and his socialist ideals. Mr. Petersson, the prosecutor, said that in 2017, the police found a weapon at the collector's house matching the one that could have been used in the prime minister's killing. But officials could not establish definitively that the gun was the murder weapon.
Peterson, the prosecutor with only one t in his name, didn't name the gun collector, since he wasn't a suspect. The Times adds Petersson "also said the journalist's findings had played no role in the investigation. But he allowed that 'he came up with the same ideas we have came up with.'"
Reuters reports that Engstrom's family has long rejected the accusations:
Daily Expressen quoted his ex-wife as saying in February that he was too timid to have carried out the murder. A childhood friend, Olle Madebrink, told the paper Engstrom was "the most normal person in the world."
He probably was very quiet and kept to himself, too.
Also, you may want to take a minute to read this live-tweetage of this morning's press conference by Actual Swedish Person and journalist Stephanie Zakrisson, who called the proceeding
the most Swedish press conference ever. We're probably at the hundredth Power Point slide now. They basically spent 30 min talking about the digitalisation of the police investigation. Please folks, give us some DNA evidence now.
As of blog time, Donald Trump has not yet weighed in on the case, although if he's ever heard anything about Palme, we expect he would proclaim him a member of Antifa who should be brought to justice.
[Reuters / NYT / Stephanie Zakrisson on Twitter / Photo: 'Oiving,' Creative Commons license 3.0]
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