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The Swedish Prosecutor’s Office closed the investigation into the murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme on Wednesday, pointing out a deceased publicist as a suspect, but without providing technical evidence to clear doubts about the assassination that traumatized the country 34 years ago.

Previous statements by the prosecutor in the case, Krister Petersson, optimistic about his resolution and speculation about the discovery of the crime weapon had raised expectations.

But the solution presented is not conclusive, you have no new evidence and it is based on an analysis of testimonies and the controversial role of a witness, pointed out two years ago by journalist Thomas Pettersson in an award-winning report in Filter magazine.

The alleged murderer is Stig Engström (the so-called “Skandia man” by the insurer he worked for as a publicist and who had his office near the crime scene), included as a witness and protagonist in Swedish media in the days after the events.

“We found a person who did not fit in the crime photo. His information did not correspond to that of other witnesses,” Inspector Hans Melander said at a digital news conference.

The ‘Skandia man’

The only thing proven is that Engström, 52, left the office, where he had stayed to work late, shortly before Palme was assassinated and that he returned twenty minutes later.

Palme had gone out with his wife Lisbet on the night of Friday, February 28, 1986, without an escort, to a central Stockholm cinema.

The “Skandia man” gave contradictory statements to the police: He said he was one of the first to arrive at the scene and had spoken to Lisbet Palme, something that no one could confirm, nor his movements or eye contact with the shooter.

Even if nobody saw the killer’s face As he shot Palme in the back, the descriptions of the suspect (hat, dark coat, briefcase) match those of the clothing Engström was wearing.

“His own explanations of what he did at that time do not match what others said. Everything points to his being in the place, but in a very different role from the one he wanted to make believe,” said Krister Petersson in an appearance of more than two hours.

Engström’s “strange” behavior continued in later days with statements to the media in which he appears to “mock” the police and play clueless, according to Petersson.

“This would have been enough for an arrest and go to preventive detention, although not for a conviction. Then we could have done analysis of the clothes, records, etc., and build a case,” said the prosecutor, who ruled out that Engström was part of a conspiracy.

Engström moved in circles contrary to Palme, was a member of a shooting club and had access to weapons through an acquaintance: the “Palme group” (the police unit in charge of the investigation) confiscated at least one revolver for a ballistic test.

But the National Forensic Institute concluded that the poor condition of the two preserved bullets makes any analysis impossible.

Initial police reports list Engström as a suspect, but he was not summoned for subsequent reconstruction and disappeared from the investigation, somewhat “surprising” for the prosecutor.

Crime scene memorial


An investigation full of scandals

Incompetence in the investigation was soon evident: the crime zone was not properly cordoned off and adjacent streets blocked, apart from efforts focused on a single track, that of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Palme’s international projection multiplied the number of possible authors, among them the south african secret servicesBut there is no “concrete” evidence for this or the theory of a police conspiracy, Melander reiterated today.

His obsession with the PKK and its methods cost the first chief of the investigation, Commissioner Hans Holmér, and the Minister of Justice resigned after discovering a parallel investigation.

A common criminal convict Christer Pettersson was sentenced to life in prison in 1989, acquitted months later for lack of evidence as the widow’s identification, which had previously received physical details from a police officer, was invalidated.

Explanation or disappointment

The triggered reactions by the announcement of the Prosecutor’s Office, they oscillate between those who give credibility to their conclusions and consider that little else can be done and those who believe that the arguments to raise an accusation against someone who perhaps only wanted prominence are very weak.

“My conclusion is that after 34 years it is hard to believe that maintaining the investigation would yield more results. We have gone as far as could be expected,” prosecutor Petersson said.

Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, a Social Democrat like Palme, called the result “as close to the truth as possible” and rejected a new commission of inquiry.

Palme’s successor in office, Ingvar CarlssonHe spoke of a “credible” explanation, like the three children of the assassinated, who regretted however that there is no technical evidence.

Other social democratic figures such as the former minister were disenchanted Anna Greta Leijon or the ex-president of the party Mona Sahlin, while several of the main Swedish jurists, such as Peter Althin or Johan Eriksson, spoke of “great disappointment”.