Who killed the prime minister? The unsolved murder that still haunts Sweden

Three decades ago, Olof Palme was assassinated on Stockholm’s busiest street. The killer has never been found. Could the discovery of new evidence finally close the case? By Imogen West-Knights

On the last night of February 1986, the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme and his wife, Lisbet, were strolling home through downtown Stockholm. They had taken an impromptu trip to the cinema and decided, as they often did, not to bring bodyguards. Palme made a point of living as much as possible like an ordinary person; he did not want the fact that he was running the country to come between him and his countrymen. “You saw him in the streets all the time,” says the Swedish ethnologist Jonas Engman. “You could speak to him. There was an intimacy to it.”

At 11.21pm, as the couple walked down Sveavägen, one of Stockholm’s busiest streets, a tall man in a dark coat walked up behind them. The man put one hand on Palme’s shoulder, and with his other hand fired a single round from a gun into the prime minister’s back. He grazed Lisbet with a second bullet before fleeing up a flight of 89 steps that links the main street with a parallel road above.

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