Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Christer Pettersson (April 23, 1947 - September 29, 2004) was a suspect in the assassination of Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden. He was tried and acquitted in Swedish court, although Palme's widow insisted that he was the man she saw commit the crime.
Pettersson grew up in a middle class family in the suburb of Sollentuna, outside Stockholm. In his youth a student in a theatre school and reported to have been considered promising by at least one of his teachers, he dropped out as his drug abuse got out of hand. In 1970 he killed a man, seemingly without any provocation, in what the Swedish press dubbed the "bayonet murder", because of the weapon used. The incident happened not far from where the Palme murder later took place in central Stockholm. Pettersson was sentenced to prison for manslaughter. After his release, he continued his life of petty crime and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
Pettersson was accused of the murder of Olof Palme after an extended investigation by the Swedish police. He was picked out from a police lineup by Palme's wife, Lisbet Palme . The original tip fingering 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.
In 1989, he was freed after an appeals court cited lack of evidence, including the murder weapon. It also questioned Lisbet's accuracy in picking him out. Pettersson was awarded about $50,000 in compensation for defamation by the police and for wrongful imprisonment . He had since made money by selling his tale to newspapers.
In 1998, the Supreme Court rejected a prosecutor's appeal to retry Pettersson citing that evidence was not strong enough to place him at the scene of the shooting.
Petterson died at the Karolinska University Hospital after he fell and suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. He had been in a coma since September 16, 2004, when he underwent emergency surgery for head injuries. He was buried in his native Sollentuna in January 2005.
Shortly before Pettersson was taken to hospital, he contacted the son of Olof Palme, Mårten Palme, explaining he had something to tell the family. Palme said he was willing to meet Pettersson if he was ready to confess to the murder. But the meeting never took place, and what Pettersson had to tell was never revealed.
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