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Anna Lindh

Anna Lindh, (June 19, 1957 - September 11, 2003), was a Swedish politician, Minister for the Environment (1994-1998) and Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Swedish Government, from 1998 until her death.

She was born at Enskede in Stockholm, and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from Uppsala University in 1982. Member of Parliament in 1982-1985 and from 1998, for the Social Democrats, Deputy Mayor of Stockholm 1991-1994, Minister for the Environment 1994-1998. Following the general election in 1998 she succeeded Lena Hjelm-Wallén as Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the new Government. A high point in her career came during the Swedish Presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2001, when she was Chairman for the Council of the European Union, which carried the responsibilities of representing the official foreign policy position for the European Union as a whole.

Anna Lindh was generally seen as the prime candidate to succeed Göran Persson as Chairman for the Social Democrats, and as Prime Minister of Sweden. She was married to Bo Holmberg, the Governor of Södermanland, with whom she had two sons, named David and Filip.


Anna Lindh died on the early morning of September 11, 2003, following a knife attack in Stockholm on the afternoon of September 10. Just after 4 pm she was attacked while shopping at the Nordiska Kompaniet department store. She was stabbed in the chest, stomach and arms. Following the assault she was rushed to the Karolinska Hospital where she underwent surgery for over nine hours, receiving blood transfusions continually during the operation. Reportedly she suffered copious internal bleeding, her liver was seriously damaged, and her medical situation remained grave, even though at first it appeared to have improved after the surgery. One hour after concluding the initial nine-hour surgery, complications forced resumption of surgery. At 5.29 local time all attempts to save her life had been exhausted and Anna Lindh was pronounced dead.

The killer was able to escape after the crime. According to eyewitness accounts his actions appeared deliberate and systematic. A phone number was set up for anyone who might know anything about the crime, and a massive manhunt was launched in Sweden, centering on Stockholm. After two days, a very interesting image believed to be the assassin was released by the Police. This image was taken by a camera on a floor above the scene of the murder.

A few items, pieces of clothing and a knife, believed to be connected with the murder were found out side the department store, in the vicinity of a subway station. At the scene of the crime the Police were able to secure a handprint, also believed to be connected to the killer. Publication of images from the surveillance system of the department store, showing the suspect, took place on September 13 and 14.

A man, Per-Olof Svensson was apprehended on September 16 and detained as suspect to the murder on justifiable grounds, the lowest degree of suspicion. On September 24, the Police announced that a new suspect, Mijailo Mijailovic, had been apprehended and arrested, at the higher level of suspicion, probable cause. It is likely that evidence suggests a stronger case against the new suspect. Following the arrest it was announced that the previous suspect had been released. On September 25 it was announced that the DNA-profile of Mijalio matches that of hairs found on the baseball cap, left on or near the scene of the crime. He also resembles the man filmed in the store where Lindh was attacked.

After previously having denyed all involvement, Mijailovic on January 6, 2004, admitted to the deed and gave a full account of the events on September 10, in an extra session of police questioning requested by Peter Althin, Mijailovic's council. The trial is set to start on January 14.

Anna Lindh was the second prominent Swedish politician to have been assassinated in the past decades, and the third since the early 19th century. Prime Minister Olof Palme was gunned down in 1986 by an unidentified assailant.


Anna Lindh was an outspoken campaigner for Sweden to join the Euro in the referendum held on the Sunday of September 14. Following the attack, all Euro-campaign events, for both the yes and no camps, were immediately cancelled. Television campaign commercials were withdrawn from broadcasting, all campaign advertising on billboards was to be removed, advertising in printed media cancelled, etc. The assassination was widely interpreted as an attack on the free and open society that is a hallmark for Sweden and that this was a time for unity rather than political campaigning.

Following a meeting, held at midday September 11, with Prime Minister Göran Persson and the leaders of the other political parties in the Riksdag, the decision was taken not to let the assassination affect the schedule of the referendum. Information and resources on the issues of the referendum were to be fully available but no political campaigning or argumentation was to take place. The party leaders unanimously pledged support for holding the ballot as planned and to respect and abide by the outcome. Despite speculations that the sympathy for Lindh could influence the voting behavior, the Euro was rejected in the referendum.

Following the death of Mrs. Lind, the junior minister in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Jan O. Karlsson, was made acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. In October Laila Freivalds was appointed as the successor to Anna Lindh's Cabinet post.

A number of commemorative gatherings were held for Anna Lindh through out Sweden, on September 12-13. A more formal commemorative gathering was held at Stockholm City Hall on September 19. Speakers at this gathering were, notably, Göran Persson, Prime Minister, Chris Patten, Margot Wallström, European Commissioners, Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State and the Swedish speaking George Papandreou, Foreign Minister of Greece. The burial ceremony, was held privately on September 20, at the Church of Ersta in Stockholm.

See also