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Former suspect in Swedish murder dies

/ Source: The Associated Press

Christer Pettersson, whose conviction for the 1986 killing of Prime Minister Olof Palme was overturned on appeal, died Wednesday, hospital officials said. He was 57.

Pettersson had been in a coma at the Karolinska Hospital since Sept. 16. He died from brain hemorrhaging and organ failure, hospital spokeswoman Inger Rosell said.

Pettersson was unconscious when he was admitted to the hospital with severe head injuries, Rosell said. It was unclear what caused the injuries. He underwent surgery but never regained consciousness, Rosell said.

“It’s a tragic life that has now come to its end,” Prime Minister Goeran Persson told Swedish news agency TT.

A convicted criminal with a history of substance abuse, Pettersson was the only person tried for Palme’s murder after being identified by Palme’s widow, Lisbet, as the killer.

Sweden shocked
Palme was gunned down in downtown Stockholm on Feb. 28, 1986, as he walked home from a movie theater with his wife. Palme had campaigned against the Vietnam War and South Africa’s former apartheid system.

Pettersson was convicted of Palme’s killing in 1988 but acquitted on appeal after police failed to find the murder weapon.

The killing, which stunned the country, remains unsolved.

In 2001, Pettersson admitted to a Swedish writer that he shot Palme.

“Sure as hell it was me who shot (him), but they can never nail me for it. The weapon is gone,” he said in a 2001 interview with Gert Fylking.

He later retracted the statement and said he was not involved in the killing.

In 1998, the Supreme Court rejected a prosecutor’s appeal to retry Pettersson, ruling that the evidence was not strong enough despite claims that Pettersson could be placed at the scene of the shooting on a busy downtown Stockholm street.