Theater of Cruelty

Who is shooting prime ministers?

The hatred of Olof Palme was intense in several camps when he was killed in 1986, and the theories around who would remove him are many.  


Witnesses who saw the assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme on February 28, 1986, said that the killer was wearing a long, dark coat, that he was moving calmly, and that he disappeared immediately. According to the autopsy report, Palme was shot with precision at a distance of 20 centimeters, with special ammunition that can penetrate bulletproof vests. It all appeared to be professionally done. After my article in the previous issue of Ny Tid ("Was the murder of Palme a real coup?"), I have received a number of questions. In the article, I wrote that there are many who still believe that it must have been the petty criminal junkie Christer Pettersson, a "lone curler" in a blue bubble jacket, who shot Prime Minister Olof Palme. But the witnesses who saw the killer as he shot described a completely different type in a completely different guise. I will dive further into the case by going into more detail on actors, incidents and connections that were a reality in the time around the murder.

oliverNKurd track. Immediately after the murder, the then chief of the Stockholm Police Hans Holmér was appointed as investigative leader. After only a year, he had to step down. Early in the investigation, he had narrowed his perspective and focused on a group of Kurds – but this did not lead to anything. He left all other traces on the shelf. His friend Ebbe Carlsson adopted Holmér's interest in Kurds in his own parallel investigation. Carlsson bought illegal surveillance equipment with the help of Stockholm Police weapons expert Carl-Gustaf Östling, who was also a well-known Nazi sympathizer.

Meant Palme was a traitor. In the documentary program Document from the inside which was broadcast on Swedish television in 1999, commander Cay Holmberg, former head of the Swedish military school Berga Örlogsskolor, says that one of his subordinates, commander Captain Hans von Hofsten, had attended meetings with police officers in 1985 where they discussed how to remove the prime minister Olof Palme. However, no specific method of killing him had been discussed, Cay Holmberg said in the program.

Olof Palme and his Secretary of State Ulf Larsson were informed in the time before the murder that the Nazi salute was made at these meetings when they took place in Gamla Stan. One of the participants in the meetings was the mentioned arms expert Carl-Gustaf Östling. He often referred to the prime minister as a traitor, especially after listening to Professor John Erickson, a British Soviet expert, who believed that Sweden had let a Soviet submarine escape after negotiations with Moscow. Commander Captain von Hoftsten also believed that the submarines showed that Palme was untrustworthy and that he had to leave. Von Hofsten organized a "revolt" among the naval officers against the prime minister.

CG-Östling3-redKilled before the Moscow trip. However, Carl-Gustaf Östling had not only attended meetings with right-wing radical officers. He was also at one point one of the main suspects of the murder. When the Swedish Customs Crime searched his apartment, they found a large number of weapons, including grenades and automatic weapons, mounted in stress cases. They also found exactly the same armor-breaking ammunition used when Olof Palme was shot. In addition, they found photographs of Östling and his friend Major Ingvar Grundborg, where they performed the Nazi salute at Jewish graves.

Today both Hans Holmér, Ebbe Carlsson, Carl-Gustaf Östling and Hans von Hofsten have died. Today we also know that these foreign submarines were not Soviet, but British and American. We also know that Palme was not involved in releasing them. On the right, however, there was a widespread belief at the time that Palme was a traitor willing to cooperate with the Russians. One month after he was killed on February 28, 1986, he was supposed to have traveled to Moscow. Several people wanted to put an end to this journey.

Joined the police. Carl-Gustaf Östling stopped working in the police shortly after the killing. He started a weapons company with his friend Major Ingvar Grundborg. They delivered weapons and bodyguards to Hans Holmér – the Palme murder's first investigative leader – and weapons to Per Arvidsson at the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration (FMV). Ingvar Grundborg also worked in FMV: Six weeks before the killing he had been given a sensitive position as security manager at Televerket Radio, where he was responsible for, among other things, monitoring the walkietalkie traffic in the area. After the murder, Grundborg never returned to work. The weapons expert Östling took over, but did not remain in the position for long – only until the end of 1986. Östling's colleague at the Stockholm Police Ulf Helin was the commander of the police operations center the fateful February night – and only that night. When there was a message about shooting in Sveavägen, he asked for confirmation, and instead sent a police car to a drunken quarrel at the train station. Only after two minutes did he send a car to the killing place. In the car sat his close colleague Claes Djurfeldt, who began to run after the killer. A female witness told him the killer had disappeared behind a car. This was Djurfeldt's private car, which was parked outside Carl-Gustaf Östling and Ingvar Grundborg's apartment.

Sonny Björk and Per Arvidsson (who gave Östling alibi for the early part of the evening) were the weapons experts who analyzed the bullets for the police. Björk was employed by the police, while Arvidsson was employed by FMV.

All of these six men – Östling, Grundborg, Helin, Djurfeld, Björk and Arvidsson – were members of a small "special force" (disguised as a shooting team) which was used, among other things, to test the security at the defense commander's office.

Strong forces in South Africa. When Ebbe Carlsson ordered monitoring equipment via Carl-Gustaf Östling, the order was not registered in Carlsson's name. The order was registered at the South African Legation in Stockholm. Ingvar Grundborg made trips to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The South African police colonel and commander of the death squads Eugen de Kock said in a court case in the Supreme Court in 1996 (after the fall of the apartheid regime) that his colleague, the South African agent Craig Williamson, had planned the killing and was in Stockholm at the time of the killing. The fact that Williamson was in Stockholm back then has been confirmed by several witnesses – and the Swedish State Attorney Jan Danielsson confirmed on Swedish TV4 in 1996 that Williamson was in Sweden on February 28, 1986: "I can confirm that he was in Sweden. We know he did. "

There were strong forces both in Sweden and in South Africa that would get Olof Palme away.

Williamson's colleague Peter Casselton was killed in 1997 when he lay under his own car and muttered – the car detached from the bucks it was standing on, and Casselton got the car over him. He had designated the Swedish-South African agent Bertil Wedin as involved. Wedin was the one who had published the Kurdish track in a Turkish newspaper, and had also worked with Williamson. At a press conference in 1984, he said that he was cooperating with intelligence services in the Nordic countries to oppose Prime Minister Olof Palme. Wedin is also said to have been involved in an assassination attempt on Nelson Mandela's party African National Congress' (ANC) office in London in 1982. Swedish politicians worked closely with the South African apartheid regime, while Olof Palme supported the ANC with 900 million kroner. There were strong forces both in Sweden and in South Africa that wanted to get rid of Olof Palme.

Through Sweden. But the killing was probably even more complicated. The right-wing Swedish Victor Gunnarsson was arrested a few days after the murder and was suspected for a good while. His hatred of Palme was well known, and he had contact with an American who went by the name of "Charles Morgan." Gunnarsson emigrated to the United States a few years later, and in 1993 he was shot with two bullets in the head in the state of North Carolina. A former mercenary named Ivan von Birchan told a month before the killing, both to a member of the Stockholm City Council and to the police, that an American named "Charles Morgan" had offered him two million dollars to shoot the prime minister. He was offered this offer in December 1985 and January 1986. Von Birchan knew "Charles Morgan" from southern Africa and Libya as a CIA agent, and he had seen him on a video with Oliver North in Honduras. Another of North's allies was General John Singlaub, who worked with the CIA and organized leaders of death squads in Latin America and Nazis from Ukraine in the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). Swedish-South African Bertil Wedin had ties to WACL, and one month before the killing, the Social Democratic leadership in Sweden was informed that something was going to happen to Palme before his trip to Moscow in April 1986. This information came from WACL.

A week before the killing, a former WACL representative, Anders Larsson, delivered a letter to Prime Minister Palme and Foreign Minister Sten Andersson. The letter stated that Palme was dying. He was to be removed before the Moscow trip. Anders Larsson himself claimed that the CIA's "Covert Action Department" was behind, but he died shortly after he was interviewed in 1991. A former colleague of Oliver North believes that Palme had stopped North's transport of Hawk missiles through Sweden to Iran. From the autumn of 1985, the Swedish arms factory Bofors had a built-up channel for Iran to use. Palm had to go. A South African and local Swedes had been employed, he said. When I sat at the National Security Archive in Washington and read through Oliver North's diaries, it was clear that everything was about the missiles to Iran in January and February 1986. On March 11, North writes that transportation should be done through Sweden.

"After February," North writes, "all things are possible."

Also read ours previous article about the Palme murder.

Ola Tunander
Ola Tunander
Tunander is Professor Emeritus of PRIO. See also wikipedia, at PRIO: , as well as a bibliography on Waterstone

You may also like