Book: Palme murder may have had connections to Swedish Estonian diaspora

Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was assassinated in 1986.
Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was assassinated in 1986. Source: Tobbe Gustavsson/TT News Agency/AFP/Scanpix

A new book published in Sweden on Monday claims that Prime Minister Olof Palme's killer was sought at the Stockholm Estonian House as well, as a figure in the assassination conspiracy was a Swede connected to the Stockholm Estonian House and Estonian refugee organisations.

The 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme to this day remains the world's largest active murder investigation. Earlier this week, a book was published in Sweden which, according to author Jan Stocklassa, provides the necessary keys to solving the 32-year-old case, reported ETV investigative news show Pealtnägija.

According to Stocklassa, in his book he does not pinpoint a specific person as having definitely wielded the murder weapon, but rather  names a few potential people who may have been involved in the conspiracy. At the conclusion, he also hints at where the murder weapon may currently be.

A significant detail about the book itself is that it posthumously used the materials of Stieg Larsson, who, prior to becoming a famous author ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and others), was a journalist who investigated right-wing extremism and Palme's assassination.

The book "Stieg Larsson's Legacy: Who Killed Olof Palme?" also includes a fairly direct link to Estonia as well. As it turns out, the famous author sought a suspect at the Stockholm Estonian House, among other places.

According to 85-year-old author and medical researcher Enn Nõu, Palme was very much aware of the Baltics' independence ambitions. "Olof Palme has spoken at an Estonian Independence Day ceremony," Nõu explained. "While part of the opposition, sure, but still. Olof Palme's maternal grandfather was the rector of Riga Polytechnical Institute; Olof Palme spoke Latvian. But to Estonians, very many of them, he, and Social Democrats, were like a red rag to a bull."

The head of the Social Democratic Party, who had during his long career ended up involved in a number of scandals as well, had eventually amassed himself opponents both at home and abroad for a number of reasons.

On 28 February 1986, the prime minister, who had sent home his bodyguards that evening, was fatally shot on the corner of Sveavägen and Tunnelgatan streets in Central Stockholm while walking home from the cinema together with his wife Lisbet Palme.

The murder remains unsolved to this day. Petty criminal and drug addict Christer Petterson, who had previously been convicted of manslaughter, was found guilty of Palme's murder in 1989, but an appeals court overturned the verdict and the case ended up back at square one.

According to Stocklassa, over 10,000 people have been interviewed in the case, and 130 have even falsely testified that they killed Palme.

Alleged connection to Stockholm Estonian House

The investigation into the assassination led Stieg Larsson in the 1980s and Jan Stocklassa again today to the Estonians and the Estonian House in Stockholm.

Stocklassa explained that the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian communities in Sweden were quite robust at the time. A number of organisations were based out of the Stockholm Estonian House at the time, some of which were serious and very seriously fought against the Soviet Union, but others yet were involved in much shadier activities. Among them were active right-wing extremists, which Larsson began to profile in turn.

A number of obscure organisations such as the Democratic Alliance, World Anti Communist League, Resistance International were mentioned in various documents. Many have since been forgotten, but many were registered at the time at the Wallingatan Street address of the Stockholm Estonian House, and Estonian refugee activists were involved in some as well.

Nõu, however, believes that there was nothing to be taken seriously in these documents. "Stieg Larsson is looking for that crass Nazism that could not be found among Estonians!" he said. "On the contrary, there were a couple of Estonians who had worked for the security police on the German side, but no more than that. So that connection that they want to pin on them here, didn't exist. This makes it very fabulous, and more of a novel."

The person of greatest interest to amateur detectives was Anders Larsson, a Swede born in 1940 who was involved in the aforementioned organisations and in the mid-1980s worked in the Baltic Committee and at the Estonian House.

According to Stocklassa, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Larsson was referred to as the "spider of the right-wing extremist web." "He was someone who, in Stieg Larsson's opinion, was in the middle of these extreme right-wing communities," the author of the book said. "And Stieg believed that he may have been involved in organising the murder."

With that, Stieg Larsson considered the activist who had worked together with Estonians part of the conspiracy. An exchange of letters indicates that conflicts arose and, a month before Palme was assassinated, Anders Larsson was fired from the Baltic Committee.

Larsson warns the police

It was later revealed that eight days prior to the murder, Anders Larsson had taken a letter of warning to the Swedish security police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was witnessed by Joel Haukka, a former employee of the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service.

"I saw when he went in the main door; I was on the corner, watching," Haukka recalled. "After five minutes he left, and he didn't have a plastic bag anymore."

According to Stocklassa, the letters included a number of documents and articles that had been written by Larsson. There was also a small letter that noted that Olof Palme would be shot and killed.

"You really don't understand anything about Larsson's letter, it's garbled, right?" Haukka said. "But there was that warning letter, yes, that Palme would be murdered."

Prior to the assassination, it was considered the ravings of a madman. Afterward, Anders Larsson gave a number of conflicting explanations until his death in 1991, at age 53, due to complications from gastric ulcers.

Over the course of eight years, Jan Stocklassa compiled a book in which he names names and claims that a group of people with various motives established an international conspiracy to murder Palme. One link involved was Anders Larsson, who up until the end may not have understood himself by whom he was being used. Prior to the publication of the book, the police also read the manuscript.

Stocklassa believes that Larsson was the one who had to find the person who would kill Olof Palme. "But Anders Larsson was not on the same side as the people who had asked him to do this," he said. "Thus the plan from the get-go was to make him a victim. And I think that he started to understand this, which is why he forwarded warning letters."

Nõu, however, doesn't believe the connection with the Estonian House. "This is kind of like the Estonia catastrophe — there are countless numbers of conspiracies and conspiracy theories, but the simplest solution and technical flaws are ignored because it is too simple and logical," he said. "So I am skeptical in this regard. I don't believe it, and I don't feel like reading these books either, because there are as many theories as there are authors."

Stocklassa, meanwhile, believes that Palme's murderer can be found, even 30 years later.

Two weeks ago, Palme's widow and key witness Lisbeth Palme died.

An Estonian-language translation of Stocklassa's book is expected to hit the shelves in Estonia within a couple of weeks. All national council-related materials, including about the Democratic Alliance, are currently housed at the National Archives of Estonia and even accessible online.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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