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Murders and Attempted Murders

Killer of Sweden's Foreign Minister Tells of Hearing Voices

Published: January 14, 2004

(Page 2 of 2)

If convicted of murder Mr. Mijailovic could be sentenced to a life sentence. But his defense lawyer is expected to seek a psychiatric report that could result in his committal to a medical institution rather incarceration in prison. According to the police, Mr. Mijailovic has a criminal record, including a conviction for stabbing his father with a kitchen knife when he was 17 in 1996, and a history of mental problems.


Much of today's testimony was broadcast live over Swedish Radio but Judge Goran Nilsson agreed to a request by Mr. Mijailovic to suspend the broadcasts while he was testifying. Under Swedish law, the trial — set to end next Monday — was held before two judges and three lay assessors.

Despite the relative speed of the police investigation — four months from the killing to the opening of the trial — the prosecution of Mr. Mijailovic has not allayed all the doubt provoked when Ms. Lindh was killed, stunning a land that once prided itself on its tolerance and its ability to care for its citizens.

But, as elsewhere in Scandinavia, costly welfare systems are coming under increasing strain, leaving Swedes to ponder their image.

"Sweden needs so much more than a confession from Mijailo Mijailovic and a well-run trial," Dagens Nyheter, the country's leading upmarket newspaper said last week. "We would need to reappraise our idea of ourselves. Is Sweden the homeland of peaceful compromise, of caring for the weak? Or is Sweden really a violent country where an astounding number of households are armed, a country where tolerance might as well be called indifference towards the mentally ill, drug addicts or youth on the wrong track?"

In his confession last week, Mr. Mijailovic said that, after the killing, he had checked himself into an emergency psychiatric ward but had been sent home after two days. "He tried to find help and what he found was not the help he wanted," said Mr. Mankell, the author. "He fell through the net. This is a very profound criticism of our ability to take care of these people."

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