Spies, intrigues and unsolved murder: investigation into the assassination of a Swedish prime minister | world news

The shot rang out in a busy Stockholm street in February 1986, fired at close range. Less than an hour later, the Swedish Prime Minister was declared dead.

But 37 years and multiple investigations later, including a decade-long investigation by famed crime writer Stieg Larsson, no one has ever been brought to justice for Olof Palme’s murder.

Now, a new four-part series from Sky Documentaries explores the unsolved assassination sometimes known as ‘the shooting of JFK in Europe’, and the world of spies and intrigue that swirl around it.

Jan Stocklassa is a former Swedish Foreign Ministry diplomat who has spent the past 10 years investigating Palme’s murder.

He was researching for a book when he came across a wealth of material compiled by Larsson, the author of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, who had quietly spent years trying to find the killer before he died in 2004.

“The murder of Olof Palme has been on people’s minds for 37 years,” Mr Stocklassa told Sky News.

“It’s still there, and it’s kind of a wound that starts to heal and then tears again.”

Awkward moment

The assassination came at a time when, as head of SwedenPalme walked a dangerous tightrope between the two superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union.

The USSR was considering expansion – something America and the West were desperate to steer away from Sweden because of its geographical and strategic importance.

Controversially, Palme sought to maintain Sweden as a neutral, non-aligned country and, above all, a country that was not part of NATO.

It was therefore at a delicate time for Sweden that Palme was assassinated, perhaps changing the course of his country’s history.

A 1984 file photo shows Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme who was shot dead as he was returning home from a cinema in Stockholm, February 28, 1986. REUTERS/Tobbe Gustavsson (SWEDEN - Tags: POLITICS PROFILE) SWEDEN OUT .  NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALE IN SWEDEN.  THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.  IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CUSTOMER
Olof Palme was killed as he and his wife returned from the cinema

“The political situation has changed a lot and I don’t think we realized that at the time,” Stocklassa said. “Sweden was trying to create this third possibility between the Soviet Union and the United States and to help all small nations to be able to manage their own destiny.

“And that shot in Olof Palme’s back changed that immediately.”

Today, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden has abandoned its longstanding position of neutrality and is ready to join NATO.

Learn more:
‘Historic moment’ as Sweden applies to join NATO
NATO allies “accept Ukraine as a member”

Mr. Stocklassa’s investigations into Palme’s murder have seen him enter a world of dark intrigue and even come face to face with former spies. How was it?

“Scary,” he said. “I went to Cyprus to meet this Swedish spy living in northern Cyprus because he wanted to avoid extradition.”

Mr Stocklassa says he used a false name to meet the spy and did not know who to trust, even the police.

But he said entering the ghost world is a “rush” that you can be “drawn or addicted to”.

In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated in a busy Stockholm street.  The murder sends shock waves around the world.  Years of police investigations lead to an impasse.  The internet is awash with conspiracy theories, creating armies of armchair detectives and obsessives.  But the trail gets cold... Until a reporter accidentally discovers 20 boxes containing the personal files of the world's best-selling crime writer, SDeg Larsson, author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet...s Nest.
Jan Stocklassa has been investigating the assassination for more than a decade

After a decade of research, Mr Stocklassa says the murder is still unsolved – but he says he relied on Larsson’s work and has a theory.

“I’m not saying who I think actually pulled the trigger, I have a theory on that,” he says.

“But more importantly, you can see the real forces behind this, with the South Africans using a Swedish middleman and using Swedish right-handers as aides and possible scapegoats or patsies.

“It’s the theory that Stieg (Larsson) believed in, and that I strongly believe in. I’m even convinced of it.”

The Man Who Played With Fire returns for the second episode on Sunday May 21 on Sky Documentaries and Now. The first episode is available for catch-up viewing.


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