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Sunday, 28 October, 2001, 10:39 GMT
Cleared suspect 'admits' Palme murder
Stockholm skyline
Olof Palme was shot dead in central Stockholm
The man convicted and later acquitted of the 1986 murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme is reported to have confessed to the fatal shooting in a letter written to a tabloid newspaper.

Christer Pettersson was convicted of the murder in 1989 despite pleading not guilty, but was acquitted by an appeals court later that year.


Sure as hell it was me who shot [Palme], but they can never nail me for it. The weapon is gone

Christer Pettersson
Palme was shot dead in central Stockholm on 28 February 1986, when he and his wife Lisbet were walking home from the cinema.

The killing which stunned Sweden has never been solved.

In the letter to the Expressen newspaper, which Mr Pettersson signed as a co-author, writer Gert Fylking described how his friend told him of the murder.

Christer Pettersson
Christer Pettersson was first convicted of the murder and then cleared

"Sure as hell it was me who shot [Palme], but they can never nail me for it. The weapon is gone," Mr Pettersson was quoted as saying in the article published on Saturday.

Hours after the letter was made public, Mr Fylking reportedly went to speak to the Swedish police, while Mr Pettersson is to be called in for questioning.

Stockholm's Deputy Prosecutor Agenta Bildberg told the Reuters news agency she had not yet decided what, if any, action to take or whether the article could be used to reopen the case.

On Thursday, Lisbet Palme spoke out publicly about the killing for the first time, saying in a newspaper interview that she remained convinced she had correctly identified the killer - Mr Pettersson - even though the Swedish courts chose not to believe her.

"I tried to keep the picture in my mind as clear as possible for myself for many years," she said.

Chance encounter

Mr Pettersson did not plan the murder in advance, the article said.

By chance he saw the Palme couple going into the cinema.

He then found a gun in a flat which he broke into looking for drugs.

He returned to the cinema and waited for Palme.

Mr Pettersson is a former convict with a history of alcohol and drug abuse. In 1999, he said in a controversial television interview that he was not sure what happened on the night of the murder.

He said he did not think he had killed Palme, but acknowledged he might have done it.

Motives

Palme's left-wing policies earned him many enemies at home and abroad, and over the years the Swedish authorities have considered many different political motives for his murder.

These included investigating 20 people from Sweden's big Kurdish community in 1987, and in 2001 prosecutors interviewed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in captivity in Turkey.

Another theory pointed the finger at the former apartheid regime in South Africa. But the investigation still continues.

The murder weapon has never been found, and in 1999 a government report criticised the police for bungling the case.

See also:

07 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sweden
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