Olof Palme: Stig Engstrom named as main suspect in 1986 killing of Swedish prime minister

Swedish prosecutors have ended their 34-year investigation into the murder of then prime minister Olof Palme – because the main suspect is dead.

Mr Palme was shot while leaving a cinema in Stockholm with his wife Lisbeth Palme in February 1986.

The identity of his killer has remained a mystery since then, leading to numerous conspiracy theories about who was behind the attack – ranging from foreign involvement, to people with right-wing sympathies within the police.

But prosecutors now say they believe Swedish graphic designer Stig Engstrom, who died in 2000, is the gunman who fatally shot the Social Democrat leader.

Speaking at a news conference, the case’s chief prosecutor Krister Petersson said Engstrom’s death meant the investigation would now be halted.

“Since he has died, I cannot indict him,” Mr Petersson told reporters.

The prosecutor said Engstrom had a strong dislike of Mr Palme and his left-leaning policies.

In Sweden, the names of potential suspects are not reported in the media.

It meant that Engstrom was initially known as “the Skandiamannen”, because he worked at the Skandia insurance company near where the shooting happened.

Engstrom was one of the first people on the scene after Mr Palme was shot, but accounts of his actions and the events around the murder have varied widely.

Several witnesses said they saw someone fleeing the scene who matched Engstrom’s description, while others said he was not present when the shooting occurred.

Engstrom always claimed to have been present at the event, saying he spoke to the prime minister’s wife and police officers, as well as attempting to resuscitate Mr Palme.

He said he had then run to catch up with officers looking for the assassin, which was why witnesses had seen him fleeing the scene.

Police later labelled him an unreliable witness and classified him as a person of no interest.

Over the last 34 years, more than 100 people have been suspected of the attack.

Hans Melander, head of the investigation, told the news conference that 134 people had confessed to the murder, including 29 directly to the police, and that some 10,000 people had been questioned.

One former suspect, Christer Pettersson, was convicted of the murder in 1989 after being identified by Mrs Palme as the gunman.

However, his sentence was overturned the following year after the police found no technical evidence against him, leaving the case open until now.

Mr Melander said: “I am completely convinced that there are other people who believe in other solutions, but as Krister (Petersson) says, this is what we came up with and believe in.”

Marten Palme, the son of Olof and Lisbet Palme, told Swedish radio: “I also think Engstrom is the perpetrator.”

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