Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Palme Assassination Remains an Open Wound in Sweden

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Palme Assassination Remains an Open Wound in Sweden

Article excerpt

The bloodstain on the sidewalk has been replaced with a brass plaque in memory of Prime Minister Olof Palme, but 10 years and 18,000 leads later his assassination remains unsolved.

Several bungled investigations have led nowhere and despite all the t ip-offs the murder weapon is yet to be found by the 14 detectives still working on the case.

Palme's murder remains an open sore for Sweden, which observed his death last month.

"Sweden lost its innocence when Palme died. His death became a confirmat ion that we are no different from everyone else. We suddenly realized we were a part of the rest of the world," said Gunnel Gustafsson, a political scientist at Umea University in northern Sweden.

"I cried when I found out (he had been killed). It was like everything in Sweden changed when he died," said Kristina Ericsson, passing by the plaque that marks the spot where Palme was shot.

For several years after the murder, the plaque was covered with red roses, the symbol of the Social Democratic Party that Palme led. Nowadays it is adorned usually on Palme's birthday, Jan. 30, and a month later on the anniversary of his death.

Palme, who inspired the affection of his supporters and equally intense dislike from conservative opponents, was walking home from the Grand Cinema in central Stockholm with his wife, Lisbet, when he was gunned down.

The two had been to see Suzanne Osten's "The Mozart Brothers" and were on their way to the subway to head for their apartment in the Old Town, about one mile away, on a freezing winter night.

Earlier that evening Palme had dismissed his bodyguards.

As the couple walked up the street past an artists' supply shop, the assassin suddenly emerged. He shot Palme in the back with a .357 Magnum and then grazed Lisbet Palme with a second bullet before disappearing into the dark.

Palme died almost instantly. The killer had used armor piercing bullets which shredded Palme's organs. "He was probably dead before he hit the ground," said one police officer. …

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