Who killed the Swedish PM? Suspense as probe nears end

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In a highly anticipated announcement, Swedish prosecutors will reveal Wednesday whether they are pressing charges or closing the investigation into the unsolved 1986 murder of prime minister Olof Palme.

The killing, which current Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has described as an “open wound”, has stumped investigators for decades.

The news that the probe would be wrapped up — one way or the other — has made headlines in Sweden and abroad.

One report, in the tabloid Aftonbladet, claimed investigators now had the murder weapon, while Britain’s Leakblast reported this week that South African intelligence officials met Swedish investigators in March to hand over information on the assassination.

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Palme was killed on February 28, 1986, after leaving a Stockholm cinema with his wife Lisbet to walk home, having dismissed his bodyguards for the evening.

An unidentified attacker shot Palme in the back and fled, leaving the 59-year-old dying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk.

More than 10,000 people have been questioned over the years, but authorities do not currently have anyone placed under formal suspicion.

Chief prosecutor Krister Petersson, who took over the probe in 2017, will announce his decision at 9:30 am (0730 GMT).

Man convicted, then freed
Experts and Swedish media have in recent months suggested that the most likely scenario would be that the case will be closed because the main suspects speculated about in the media in recent years are all dead.

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Petersson said in February that if the main suspect was dead, that would justify closing the case as a dead person cannot be prosecuted.

Over the years, more than 130 people have claimed responsibility for the murder and the case files take up 250 metres (820 feet) of shelf space.

Christer Pettersson — a petty criminal and drug addict who in a bizarre coincidence shares a nearly identical name with the current chief prosecutor — was convicted of the crime in July 1989 after Palme’s widow identified him in a widely-criticised line-up.

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But he was freed months later by an appeals court which dismissed her testimony on a technicality. Pettersson died in 2004, while Palme’s widow passed away in 2018.

The news that their charismatic leader had been brutally killed shocked Swedes, and their open and peaceful society is said to have “lost its innocence” that day.

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