On February 28, 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated. Palme led the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1969 until his death, and was a two-term Prime Minister of Sweden.
A polarizing figure domestically as well as in international politics since the 1960s, Palme was steadfast in his non-alignment policy towards the superpowers, juxtaposed to support of numerous third world liberation movements. He was also a vocal supporter for a number of non-democratic anti-imperialist regimes. Frequently a critic of U.S. and Soviet foreign policy, he resorted to fierce and often polarizing criticism in pinpointing his resistance.
For Palme security had never been a major issue, and he could often be seen without any body guard protection. The night of his murder was one such occasion. During the late evening hours of February 28, 1986, Palme and his wife Lisbet were walking home from a cinema in central Stockholm. The couple was attacked by an assassin. Palme was fatally shot in the back at close range. A second shot was fired at Lisbet, but the bullet only grazed her back. She survived without serious injuries. Palme was rushed to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead upon arrival. Deputy Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson immediately assumed the duties of Prime Minister, a post he would retain until 1991 (and then again in 1994-1996). Two years later, Christer Pettersson, a small-time criminal and drug addict, was arrested, tried and convicted for Palme's murder. His conviction was later overturned on appeal. As a result the crime remains unsolved and a number of alternative theories as to who carried out the murder have since been proposed. Palme’s assassination was the first of its kind in modern Swedish history.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: