Swedish prosecutors say they've identified man who assassinated prime minister in 1986

Prosecutors in Sweden on Wednesday announced they have identified the man they believe assassinated Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986, an unsolved case that has been the subject of speculation and conspiracy theories for decades.

At a Wednesday press conference in Stockholm, chief prosecutor Krister Petersson said investigators believe the assassin to have been Stig Engström, a graphic designer who gave a witness statement to police at the scene of the assassination, according to NPR.

Engström, who died in 2000, was commonly known as “the Skandia man” after the insurance company where he worked, due to Swedish media’s practice of not identifying criminal suspects by name.


"Because the person is dead, I cannot bring charges against him and have decided to close the investigation," Petersson said in the conference. "How he acted was how we believe the murderer would have acted.”

Palme was shot in the back on a downtown Stockholm street on Feb. 28, 1986, after leaving a movie theater with his wife, Lisbet. Both Lisbet and Palme’s son Marten identified a man named Christer Petterson, no relation to the prosecutor, as the gunman. Petterson was convicted in 1989, but the conviction was overturned a year later.

Due to Palme’s opposition to authoritarian regimes and frequent criticisms of U.S. Cold War policy, various international groups and agencies have been theorized as involved in his assassination, including the CIA, apartheid South Africa, agents of far-right Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Kurdish separatists.

Engström, however, has been frequently named as a potential suspect before, including by journalist Thomas Petterson. Petterson told The New York Times in 2018 that Engström, a military veteran and shooting hobbyist, would have been familiar with the gun used to kill Palme.

Petterson told the newspaper Engström had "the right timing, the right clothing ... unique information" and "a deep political interest and a deep anti-Palme sentiment."