Swedes Mark First Anniversary of Palme’s Slaying with Roses, March
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Swedes stood in line in 14-degree weather to lay red roses at the site where Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot from behind one year ago Saturday in an unsolved assassination.
Hundreds of Swedes grieved openly on Sveavagen, the main Stockholm thoroughfare where Palme was killed while strolling home unguarded with his wife, Lisbet, after a late movie.
″It’s so sad. I still can’t believe it’s true,″ said Sven Andersson, a 63-year-old Stockholm man who placed a rose among hundreds in a vase flanked by the red and yellow flags of Palme’s Social Democratic Party.
Palme, 59, was a four-term prime minister, an international champion of disarmament and Third World causes and leader of the party for 17 years.
The ceremonies marking the first anniversary of his death were low-key. No foreign dignitaries were invited and no extraordinary security precautions were in evidence. Observances included an evening torchlight march passing the murder site, a memorial concert and a church service.
The theme of the memorial program was ″For Peace Against Violence and Racism.″ The Stockholm ceremonies were the largest of more than 100 held across Sweden.
The Social Democrats said they were marking the anniversary by ″pursuing Palme’s legacy″ rather than ″looking back with pain.″
″We want the gatherings to stress his efforts for peace and disarmament, for a free and open society, and his struggle against violence,″ said party secretary Bo Toresson.
At Adolf Fredrik churchyard, two blocks up Sveavagen from the murder site, party officials placed a wreath on Palme’s grave in a silent noon ceremony.
″On this tragic anniversary there is reason for America to remember a man who was leader of both a nation and a cause,″ Sen. Edward Kennedy said in a letter published in the Stockholm daily Aftonbladet.
Two of the Massachusetts Democrat’s brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert Kennedy, were killed by assassins’ bullets.
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India, whose mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated in 1984, called Palme a man who ″worked for a world in peace,″ in another letter in Aftonbladet.
Police ″have no clue today as to who the murderer is,″ said Stockholm Police Superintendent Inge Reneborg, who leads detectives on the case. The killer vanished into the night before dozens of witnesses.
Open feuding between police and prosecutors culminated on Feb. 5 with the removal of Stockholm Police Commissioner Hans Holmer, who had led the investigation.
Swedish newspapers have speculated that the murder was the act of a lunatic, a renegade policeman or a group of Kurdish immigrants.
″It is bad enough, the murder still remaining unsolved. All of us are tormented by this,″ said Foreign Minister Sten Andersson. ″And the uneasiness is aggravated by the previous setbacks and conflicts in the police investigation, by all manner of conjecture, gossip and calumny.″
Andersson also conveyed a message from Palme’s widow, who did not take part in any of the official arrangements.
″I know that many people’s thoughts are with me today, and I am sustained by their kind concern,″ she said.