Hunt for Swedish PM killer takes Stieg Larsson twist

STOCKHOLM,  (Reuters) – Sweden’s greatest unsolved murder mystery has taken another twist – revelations that Swedish crime blockbuster novelist writer Stieg Larsson had sent police evidence linking Prime Minister Olof Palme’s 1986 murder to South Africa.

Svenska Dagbladet newspaper reported yesterday the novelist behind “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” sent police 15 boxes of papers that he said linked Palme’s shooting to a Swedish former military officer alleged to have links to South African security services.

Books by Larsson, who died of a heart attack in 2004, have sold more than 75 million copies in 50 countries.

The latest report has made headlines across Sweden, where, just as with Kennedy’s assassination in the United States, Palme’s killing has spawned a legion of conspiracy theories.

Palme, a vocal critic of the apartheid regime in South Africa at the time, was shot as he walked along a street in central Stockholm late on Feb. 28 after going to the cinema with his wife.

A petty criminal was found guilty of the crime in 1989 but was released later that year on appeal. Police were widely accused of bungling the investigation.

The Swede suspected by Larsson of the killing, Bertil Wedin, denied being involved and told Svenska Dagbladet: “I have nothing to lose from the truth being established since I am luckily not the murderer.”

Deputy Prosecutor-General Kerstin Skarp, who leads the continuing police inquiry into the killing, told the newspaper that Wedin “is not someone that we are pursuing with any intensity at the moment”.

Wedin’s name is not new to the investigation and was broached already in the 1990s amid intense media coverage of an alleged South African connection in the case.

The killing spawned legions of private investigations, including Larsson’s. There were so many probes by ordinary Swedes that a name was even coined for them – “privatpanare”, or private scouts.

Some claimed to have cracked the case with theories ranging from his death being a carefully enacted suicide to the work of foreign spy agencies.

Private investigators have pointed the finger at an array of suspects, from Sweden’s own security services to Kurdish separatists and the South African and Yugoslav secret police.

 

Palme, Social Democrat prime minister between 1969 and 1976 and again between 1982 and 1986, was hated by conservatives at home and abroad for his anti-colonial views and criticism of the United States. Some even believed he was a spy for the KGB.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, the first in Larsson’s “The Millennium Trilogy”, was made into a Hollywood film with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in 2011. Its two sequels “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest”, were also global bestsellers.

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