In the spring of 2018, the media described that Olof Palme’s murder had been solved! The solution was published in the journal Filter. I went for this and took an online subscription to the magazine and sat down to read. However, my disappointment was immense, the new information that was said to be the last pieces of the puzzle that made the solution complete was that an earlier in the investigation dismissed person had been socialized in circles by people who did not like Palme and that he had an acquaintance collecting weapons. That’s all… Since the gun collector had his weapons carefully locked up, he too must have been involved. The whole theory is based on speculation, vague circumstantial evidence, selective interpretations and disregard for what can speak against. There is nothing concrete that point to the person. Both of the men identified are also dead and cannot defend themselves.

I felt cheated. It almost felt like a scam, a way to attract new subscribers and I wrote this to the editor-in-chief of the magazine. He answered and, of course, disagreed with me. However, I thought that this was so vague and twisted that it would probably quickly fall into oblivion. But I was mistaken. The theory resulted in a book that then formed the basis of the chief prosecutor in the Palme case’s closing hypothesis a few years later and now as the basis for a TV series. I’ve written about the Palme prosecutor’s statement earlier on this blog.

The positive thing about feeling cheated, however, was that I myself began to seriously think about how the Palme murder might have happened. This resulted in a memo that I sent to Filter, the Palme prosecutor and some tabloids during the summer of 2018. My memo is on my website. The only reactions I received were from Filter’s editor-in-chief who dismissed my theory as well as a brief passage in the subsequent book that indirectly dismissed my theory as too complicated. In my version to the Chief Prosecutor, I also added some concrete investigative proposals. However, this was for three and a half years and much has now happened since then. But below I now publish my memo translated into English.

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The murder of Olof Palme – the perfect crime?

2018-06-07

Introduction

On 28 February 1986, late at night, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was murdered in central Stockholm. His wife Lisbeth was also injured by the assailant. In June 2018, that is, over 32 years later, we still have no idea who is behind the crimes, even though the incident resulted in the largest criminal investigation in Sweden ever as well as one of the largest in the world. It is as if a ghost with a deadly mission briefly materialized to disappear back into another dimension after completing the enlistment, leaving behind one dead and one injured person, as well as two deformed pistol bullets. A ghost that no one can really describe even though relatively many people saw it.

Now, however, I do not believe in ghosts materialized from alternative shadow worlds, but in murderers of flesh and blood, and in the following I will describe what I believe the “ghost” was and how the murder happened. My hypothesis does not start from who committed the murder but leads to a hypothesis as to where to search for the killer, but without identifying specific individuals. Most of the hypotheses and theories that have flourished over the years have been based on identifying a specific perpetrator (or perpetrators) and then trying to tie them to the place and the event itself. My starting point is the opposite, to start from the event. However, I begin by describing why I dismiss the hypothesis of a lone perpetrator who carried out the act on the basis of a hate motive.

A lone perpetrator with a hate motive

At the time of the murder, there were many people who disliked, or even hated, Olof Palme. My starting point, however, is that very few of them would consider going as far as murdering him. Most people are simply not prepared to murder another human being, no matter how much you dislike or hate them.

The number of people who would have imagined murdering Olof Palme on the basis of a hate motive and who would then really have made a “blow to the matter” if the opportunity had arisen was probably very few at the time of the murder. Moreover, this is about a hateful person who would have carried out the crime in a rational and planned way; wait for almost two hours at the right time, follow the victim as a shadow (which no one sees) to the appropriate place, shoot two shots and disappear. Crimes based on hate are usually carried out not in this way, but based on the inspiration of the moment and in interaction with the victim. A drunk or stoned person would have jumped on Palme at the first opportunity…

However, apart from the fact that one person driven by hatred towards another probably would not have committed the murder in the way in which it was carried out, there is another major problem with this type of hypothesis. You rely on chance. That one of these very few possible perpetrators with the correct profile in this case would have met Palme on the street this cold winter evening and also had access to a weapon and ammunition is so unlikely that it is astounding that this could become the police’s main hypothesis. However, this does not, of course, mean that this type of scenario can be excluded, unlikely things happen all the time, but since the hypothesis has so many weaknesses and shortcomings, the police should have concentrated more on more likely hypotheses.

Hypothesis

My hypothesis is based on the fact that the “ghost” that emerges on Tunnelgatan is not a ghost, but that what we see is the only “public” element of a very well-planned and skillfully executed murder carried out by competent and very discreet perpetrators. 

On the basis that the murder was not committed by a lone perpetrator who accidentally met Palme in the street, there are three critical elements in connection with the murder that must be explained:

1. How did the perpetrators know that the Palmes would go to the movies in the evening without personal protection?

2. How did the perpetrators know that the Palmes would walk home from the cinema on this cold winter evening?

3. How did the perpetrators know that the Palmes would cross Sveavägen?

My hypothesis assumes that the solution to these three issues, together with the fact that the perpetrator has not yet been apprehended, together, suggests that the crime was planned and committed by a group of perpetrators.

1 – How did the perpetrator know the Palme couple were going to the movies this evening without personal protection?

If the offender had not met the Palme couple by chance, he must have either known that the couple would visit this particular cinema on this evening or the offender has followed the couple from their home in the Old Town.

Few people knew the Palmes would go to the movies in the evening. The knowledge may have been at SÄPO but probably did not. Säpo left the couple in their home on the basis of the belief that they would not leave the apartment during the evening. If they had known that the couple would go to the cinema, SAPO would probably have ensured that they had personal protection.

The offender may have learned of the plan by listening to their phone and intercepting the couple’s plane while talking to their son Mårten Palme. How easy it was at this time to intercept the phone for the Swedish Prime Minister, I do not know, but I assume that the police have carefully investigated this. In addition, the interception must have been carried out in a way that did not implict persons other than the perpetrators.

The explanation that I find most likely is that the couple have been under surveillance for some time by a group of assailants who had access to an apartment or premises where they had overseen the Palme couple’s gate and apartment. When they saw the couple leaving their home, someone followed. The fact that no one appears to have observed any stalker when the couple moved from the home to the cinema suggests that the stalker or stalkers were reconnaissance as part of their profession. The perpetrators then had plenty of time to plan the murder while the film was going on.

2 – How did the perpetrators know that the Palmes would walk home from the cinema on this cold winter evening?

The perpetrators could not know this and they were probably not sure of being able to carry out the murder on this particular evening.

They had probably been waiting for the right moment for some time and that all the pieces of the puzzle would fall into place on this particular evening they did not know in advance. The perpetrators had probably been monitoring and following Olof Palme for some time without the right opportunity being disclosed.

3 – How did the perpetrators know the couple were going to cross Sveavägen?

My hypothesis is that there were at least two armed attackers, one on either side of Sveavägen. Had it only been one attacker, he would have had to go before the couple and adapt to their walkway, which could mean a risk of being remembered by witnesses afterwards. Instead, my hypothesis is that the perpetrators waited for Palme and his wife in suitable places on both sides of Sveavägen. There may also have been an offender deployed on the subway in case the couple would have chosen this option to get home on and/or outside the apartment in the Old Town. The fact that the couple were out on the town without personal protection cannot have happened very often so when this happened you can imagine that the perpetrators were trying to maximise their chances of carrying out the murder. The retreat route was probably carefully planned. One or more cars with drivers or perhaps one or more cars to which the offenders had keys were parked in suitable or suitable locations to allow the offenders to quickly leave the city after the murder or hand over their weapons to a driver who drove the weapons out of the city for destruction.  There was probably a plan for what would happen to the weapons. Perhaps you had access to a workshop where you could cut the weapons into small pieces or melt them down. Walking down the subway or walking around town with a murder weapon in your pocket must have been seen as risky.  After all, they couldn’t assume that the police would so completely fail to start the hunt for the killer right after the murder. Probably everyone involved, along with the weapons, left Stockholm calmly and discreetly in accordance with a plan immediately after the murder.

Conclusions on the perpetrators based on the above hypothesis

Based on the above hypothesis of how the murder was carried out, six conclusions can be drawn about the perpetrators:

• It a group of perpetrators. An individual can hardly both supervise Palme and carry out the murder in the way it was carried out.

• At least some of the perpetrators were very competent scouts.

• The perpetrators have been supervising the Palmes’ home for some time. For this purpose, they have had access to an apartment or premises with supervision of the couple’s apartment and gate. Keeping an eye on it by being out on the street for a long time would probably have been both difficult and complicated and meant that someone could have remembered this afterwards. On winter evenings, few people move around the street and it should have been very cold to scout the outdoors on the night of the murder. 

• The perpetrators have had access to untraceable weapons. The weapons may have been stolen from criminals or purchased abroad. The weapons have probably not been obtained in the near future until the murder and have been obtained in a way that has made them unendingly connected to the murder.

• The perpetrators were very competent and determined when they committed the crime and had been planning it for a long time. The perpetrators were and are probably a very close-knit group who knew each other well before the murder and who trust each other completely.

• The perpetrators are probably not known as Palmehatare and have not distinguished themselves in any other way, either before the murder or after. They have acted very discreetly both before and after the murder and have never been linked to the incident in any way.

The last two conclusions I draw from the fact that the perpetrators have not yet been apprehended.

The perpetrators

The profile that fits the perpetrators is either police or military.  The perpetrators must be both cold and calculating, good at planning, having perseverance and good at scouting and handling firearms. The killer probably hasn’t killed before. The fact that he fired only two shots may indicate that he was in a state of shock by the powerful and probably echoing knock of the shots. The fact that the killer shot Palme in the back may also indicate that he was not an experienced attacker. To be sure of a fatal outcome, the assailant should have shot the victim in the head. The fact that the offender chose to shoot the victim in the back may indicate that he has become nervous and shaky and therefore chose to shoot Palme in the back, which is a much larger hit area. The head became too uncertain a target in this situation for the offender. If it had been an offender, he would probably also have fired another shot at Palme to ensure he was dead. An experienced assailant had also not left a witness, Lisbeth Palme, alive. The assailant also appears to have remained there shortly after the shootings, according to witness accounts. This, too, may indicate that he has been in a state of shock, the person in question had just shot sweden’s prime minister.

The killer’s escape route up the stairs was probably planned. Through this escape route, the offender had a good view of possible pursuers and could, in case of emergency, shoot a threat further down the stairs. The leap up the stairs suggests that the offender was in relatively good condition. The getaway car was probably in a suitably relatively hidden place a short distance from the stairs. The getaway car may have been in a place where even other potential shooters could get relatively easily and discreetly. 

The motive

My starting point on the motive for the murder is, as previously described, that it was not a question of hatred towards Olof Palme. My starting point is also that this is not an ‘international’ motive. Although Palme provoked strong reactions abroad for his statements and for the international policy pursued by the Swedish Government, headed by Palme at the time, this was hardly of such importance that an international actor would be motivated to kill him. No one would simply gain such a great advantage or benefit from his demise that this in itself would outweigh the risks of his murder. My hypothesis is that the motive is national and that the murder was committed by people driven by the notion that Palme was a serious security threat to Sweden, probably because he was suspected of acting on behalf of the Soviet Union, something that was widely discussed at the time of the murder. Another four years with Palme as prime minister were perceived to pose a risk of irreversible damage to Sweden. The close-knit group of perpetrators probably believed they had “secure” knowledge of Palme’s connection to the Soviet Union that we ordinary citizens did not have access to. I think the perpetrators saw themselves and still see themselves as the saviours of the nation. They reasoned, and certainly still resonate, in the same way as the idea that if anyone in the 1920s had known about Hitler’s coming atrocities, it would have been right and perhaps even an obligation for him to murder him in order to end history, so to speak. Breivik probably reasoned the same way when he murdered a large part of Norway’s likely social democratic future leadership. Breivik saw these as a future threat to Norway and by murdering these young people, he believes that something undesirable has been prevented from happening.

Even Palme’s killer, I think, lives in this kind of world of perception. They probably understand that they will probably never get recognition for their deeds, but live with the notion that they have done something good.

The perpetrators have been and are very planned and structured. They do not excel in any way that can make them suspect. But the very idea that they have done something very good may mean that the perpetrators, or any of them, believe and hope that in the future, during their lives or after, they may still be recognised for their deeds. Maybe they’re hoping there’ll be unequivocal evidence that Palme was a traitor, that he was a Soviet agent. In the face of such a possible situation, it is possible that one of the perpetrators saved something that he or she will then be able to use to prove his participation in the murder, perhaps even that the weapon are stored in a “safe” place instead of having been destroyed.

The group that carried out the murder is very tight-knit. It could be some childhood friends who later in life have become police officers (or military officers), like some who met at the police academy (or military college) and then stayed together, or a group who worked together for a long time. The individuals in the group have probably done criminal/immoral acts together in the past. However, nothing that has attracted much attention. These actions have from the beginning helped to bind together and create loyalty in the group. Prior to the murder, the individuals in the group have moved on to various positions in the police or military but have continued to stick together. Some have specialized and become skilled scouts. In other words, the individuals are not entirely young but have probably worked for a number of years after their undergraduate studies.

Maybe the group met and someone threw out something like “Have you heard what Palme has done/said…” Then they started discussing and talking about Palme and rumors that existed and maybe someone had an acquaintance who had some “certain information” about something fishy around Palme. Someone might have said at the time that “someone should shoot that devil.” After this meeting the members thought individually about it. When they met again, they developed and discussed their thoughts and ideas, but more like a hypothetical challenge. How would you carry out a murder? Then the planning continued, not necessarily because the crime was actually intended to be carried out. The challenge may have been as much a driving force in planning as the main motive itself. A challenge, to outsmart the system. At some point they decide to try to implement the  plan  but it probably didn’t get serious for everyone until the shots were fired. In retrospect, the perpetrators have probably experienced a satisfaction in having succeeded so well. No one’s come close to revealing them. But there may be some of them who have doubted and felt bad, who may even have taken his own life…

Conclusion

The hypothesis that I am presenting here is based on a number of assumptions and is speculative, I am fully aware of this. The parts of the hypothesis are also not new. However, my reasoning starting from what you know (as in a normal police investigation) and not starting with appointing an offender or group that you then try to link to the crime. I see this hypothesis as a possible approach, more likely than most other hypotheses that exist about the murder that I have seen. A first important step, however, is to discuss the logic of the common theory that the murder was committed by a lone perpetrator based on a hatred of Palme. I see this, as has been described earlier, as an unreasonable hypothesis and something that is detouring the investigation.

I believe that the murder will be cleared up and that the solution will shake us and our view of Sweden.