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Swedish prosecutors end probe into 1986 murder of PM Olof Palme

The main suspect Stig Engstrom died in 2000.

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Olof Palme was shot dead 34 years ago (Anders Holmstrom/TT via AP)

Olof Palme was shot dead 34 years ago (Anders Holmstrom/TT via AP)

Olof Palme was shot dead 34 years ago (Anders Holmstrom/TT via AP)

Swedish authorities have dropped their investigation into the unsolved murder of then prime minister Olof Palme who was shot dead 34 years ago in central Stockholm.

The case’s chief prosecutor, Krister Petersson, said the case was being closed because the main suspect Stig Engstrom died in 2000.

Mr Palme was gunned down on February 28 1986 after he and his wife Lisbet Palme left a cinema in Stockholm.

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Olof Palme makes the victory sign after the Social Democrats election victory in 1982 (Bertil Ericson/TT via AP)

Olof Palme makes the victory sign after the Social Democrats election victory in 1982 (Bertil Ericson/TT via AP)

AP/PA Images

Olof Palme makes the victory sign after the Social Democrats election victory in 1982 (Bertil Ericson/TT via AP)

Mr Petersson said Engstrom, also known as the Skandiamannen for working in the nearby Skandia insurance company, had a strong dislike of Mr Palme and his policies.

He was one of the first at the murder scene and was briefly considered a possible suspect.

“Since he has died, I cannot indict him,” Mr Petersson told a news conference.

Several other witnesses gave descriptions of the fleeing killer that matched Engstrom while others said he was not even at the scene.

Engstrom himself claimed to have been present from the beginning, spoke to Mrs Palme and police, and attempted to resuscitate the victim.

Soon after the murder, Engstrom appeared in Swedish media and developed an increasingly detailed story of his involvement in the events and criticised the police.

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People lay flowers at the site where Mr Palme was shot (Anders Holmstrom/TT via AP)

People lay flowers at the site where Mr Palme was shot (Anders Holmstrom/TT via AP)

AP/PA Images

People lay flowers at the site where Mr Palme was shot (Anders Holmstrom/TT via AP)

He claimed those witnesses who had described the killer had in fact been describing him running to catch up with police officers in pursuit of the assassin.

The police then labelled Engstrom as an unreliable and inconsistent witness and classified him as a person of no interest.

Mr Palme sought to live as ordinary a life as possible and would often go out without any bodyguards. On the night of the murder he had no protection.

Mrs Palme was injured in the attack and later identified the gunman as Christer Pettersson, an alcoholic and drug addict, who was convicted of Mr Palme’s murder.

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The memorial plaque in Stockholm marks the spot where Mr Palme was gunned down (Fredrik Sandberg/TT via AP)

The memorial plaque in Stockholm marks the spot where Mr Palme was gunned down (Fredrik Sandberg/TT via AP)

AP/PA Images

The memorial plaque in Stockholm marks the spot where Mr Palme was gunned down (Fredrik Sandberg/TT via AP)

The sentence was later overturned after police failed to produce any technical evidence against him, leaving the murder an unsolved mystery. Mr Pettersson died in 2004.

Mr Palme, who cut a flamboyant, even boyish figure, had an aristocratic background but was known for his left-leaning views.

He was eyed with suspicion in conservative circles and by the United States. Among Swedes and in the Nordic region, he was much loved but also hated.

More than 100 people have been suspected of the crime and the unsolved case has been surrounded by conspiracy theories, ranging from foreign involvement, people with right-wing sympathies within Sweden’s police, to an act by a lone gunman.

Hans Melander, head of the investigation, told the news conference that 134 people had confessed to the murder — 29 directly to the police — and some 10,000 people had been questioned during the 34-year probe.

He 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.”

PA