Police said to have DNA of person who killed foreign minister

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Investigators collected DNA from a baseball cap apparently left behind by the man who killed Sweden's foreign minister but found no match in a national criminal database, police said Monday.

The investigators also evaluated tips after releasing photos of a man who they said matched witness descriptions of the person who attacked Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in an upscale department store -- a crime that shocked the nation and cast a shadow over a weekend referendum on whether to adopt the euro.

Swedish authorities were unable to collect any of the killer's DNA from a knife used in the attack and have sent the weapon to an overseas laboratory for further analysis. The Forensic Science Service in Britain confirmed it was aiding the investigation, but didn't say if it received the knife.

No arrests have been made since Lindh was stabbed Thursday at a crowded department store, but police remained optimistic.

"We have good witness testimony," lead investigator Leif Jennekvist told reporters. "We have findings discovered along the escape route. We have secured DNA traces. It is a good investigative situation."

Pictures of a possible suspect were sent to police across Europe via Europol, the European law enforcement agency. Authorities have also contacted Interpol.

Most Swedish papers published photos in Monday's editions from the surveillance camera at the Nordiska Kompaniet department store showing the suspected attacker clad in a baseball cap and gray hooded Nike sweat shirt. The attack itself was not photographed, and Nylen said the man has not yet been identified.

Officials managed to get DNA from the cap, but haven't matched it with anyone.

Authorities have said the Sept. 10 attack did not appear to be politically motivated, though Lindh, who did not have bodyguards, was a prominent supporter of adopting the single European currency. Swedish voters overwhelmingly rejected the euro in Sunday's referendum.

The police have questioned and released several people but have made no arrests -- a fact that has prompted comparisons to the unsolved slaying of Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986.

"Police seem to have made the same errors again," said Erik Hagg, a businessman in Malmoe, about 400 miles southwest of the capital. "I hope for their own sake that they catch the killer quickly. Sweden needs its police to show that it can achieve something."

The attack occurred blocks away from where Palme was shot to death 17 years ago as he walked home from the movies. Both killings shocked Sweden, where violent crime is relatively rare and prominent leaders rarely travel with security details.

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