|2004-09-29 (Age 57)
Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
|Supposed perpetrator of
In 1988, Christer Pettersson was detained and accused of Palme's murder. He was convicted, but released on appeal for the lack of evidence.
Childhood and early life
Pettersson grew up in a middle-class family outside of Stockholm. In his youth he attended a theatrical school (Calle Flygares teaterskola) where he was considered promising by at least one of his teachers. However, Pettersson suffered a head injury from which he would never fully recover. Subsequent to his injury, Petterson began a period of substance abuse which would eventually force him to drop out of school.
In 1970, he stabbed a man to death in central Stockholm, during a street brawl, in what the Swedish press dubbed the "bayonet murder". The killing took place just around the corner from what would later be the site of the Palme assassination. After less than two years he was released and continued a life of petty crime, which financed his alcohol and drug abuse.
Pettersson was accused of Palme's murder after an extensive investigation by the Swedish police. He was picked out from a police lineup by Mrs Palme. The original tip-off leading to the incrimination of Pettersson has been described by some as very dubious. Although the .357-caliber Magnum pistol used to kill Palme was never found, Pettersson was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988.
Freed on appeal
However, in 1989 he was freed on appeal in light of the lack of evidence - including the missing murder weapon. Mrs Palme's identification was questioned. Pettersson was awarded about $50,000 in compensation for defamation by the police and for wrongful imprisonment. He quickly spent the money on alcohol and other drugs, but was able to augment his income through selling TV and newspaper interviews.
In some of those interviews – particularly on TV3 – Pettersson admitted to killing Olof Palme, but his confession was not treated seriously. On several occasions Pettersson pointed out that he himself was a "Social Democrat", and liked Olof Palme.
Coma and death
After a brawl with police, Pettersson was admitted to hospital on 15 September 2004 with a broken arm. On leaving hospital the following day, he fell after an epileptic fit and suffered a cerebral haemorrhage, going into a coma. Pettersson died at Karolinska University Hospital on 29 September 2004.
"The case of Christer Petterson"
In 2017, the Swedish Television investigative program Uppdrag Granskning received material from Christer Pettersson's old basement storage that was reviewed by the film collective Luftslottet. Bags with Pettersson's belongings were the start for a completely new story about the investigation into the murder of Olof Palme. Information emerged that one of the Palme Investigation Group's most acclaimed police officers, Thure Nässén, had manipulated the investigation. During questioning of several addicts, he reminded them of the reward of SEK 50 million (for solving the murder) for testifying against Pettersson. Other police officers in the Palme investigation are also said to have attracted addicts with promises about the reward for them to testify against Pettersson.