1996: The Hunt for Palme’s Killer

With no murder weapon found and conflicting witness reports, the facts surrounding Prime Minister Olof Palme’s assassination remain a mystery.

By Gaby Katz

Hans Ölvebro has, for the past eight years, been in charge of the hunt for Prime Minister Palme’s assassin. There have, over the years, been many theories on who was responsible.

The Kurdish separtist movement, the PKK was under strong suspicion and was seen as having duplex motives, including Palme’s 1984 condemnation of the PKK as a terrorist organization and the belief that Sweden was considered to have supported the Turkish government in Ankara. Also held under suspicion, were the CIA and the KGB who, in the final stages of the Cold War, both seemed to have strained relations with Palme and it was clear that the CIA believed relations with Sweden would improve if Palme was no longer Prime Minister.

Palme had also antagonized the former Soviet Union over the 1982 Soviet submarine violation of Swedish waters. But the conspiracy theory was then more or less abandoned in favour of a lone killer. A down and out man called Christer Pettersson was identified in a line-up by the main witness, Palme’s wife. He was convicted in 1989 only to be later aquitted by an appeals court. All in all, between ten and fifteen thousand leads have been followed up but still, the mystery of who assassinated Prime Minister Olof Palme remains.

But the Swedish police have been heavily criticized, particularly by FBI experts who say the investigation hasn’t been flexible enough and that police working on the investigation have developed tunnel vision.

Hans Ölvebro, however, denies having suffered from tunnel vision and maintains that the FBI only shared such sentiments with one Swedish journalist who, according to Ölvebro has tunnel vision himself for clinging onto the idea of a police conspiracy and the theory that the police misshandled the investigation by witholding information from the FBI.

However, Hans Ölvebro himself has been criticized for publicly anouncing when the killer would be caught. And of course, there has been no such revellation. With no murder weapon and with the main witness burnt up after having identified Pettersson, it seems unlikely that the police will ever find the killer. Unless, the murderer turns himself in.