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“The Improbable Assassin of Olof Palme”, the Netflix series that revives “the trauma of Sweden”

Available on the platform since November 5, this miniseries traces the journey of a man who died more than twenty years ago, before being designated by justice as the alleged murderer of the Swedish Prime Minister, assassinated in 1986. Opinions are divided across the country, with some deeming the program defamatory, while others defend the right to fiction.

Who killed Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme? The question has haunted the country since his death by gunshot, in the middle of the street, one evening in 1986. In June 2020, justice designated as the presumed culprit an obscure graphic designer who worked not far from the place of the murder: Stig Engström, that the press nicknamed “Skandiamannen”, after the Skandia insurance company that employed him at the time.

It is his story that undertakes to reconstruct Olof Palme’s The Unlikely Assassin, a series in five episodes available since November 5 on Netflix. With this particularity that Stig Engström, its main character, committed suicide in 2000 and therefore could never be judged.

Certainly, notes Emma Gray Munthe, the journalist in charge of culture at the Swedish magazine. Femina, “The first thing we see [à l’écran, dans le premier épisode] is a sign that indicates: ‘Inspired by an unsolved crime’”. Most, “About four seconds later, the crime is solved. A gunshot is heard and Skandiamannen is there, standing, a smoking gun in his hand. Palm lies in a pool of blood. ”

The journalist may have found actor Rolf Gustafsson very convincing in the role of Stig Engström, she believes that “The ethical problems linked to the denunciation of a man who no longer lives and who has not been convicted for this affair are enough to bring down the whole series”.

No compelling evidence

Emma Gray Munthe is far from being the only one of this opinion. Two defamation complaints have been filed in Sweden against Netflix, one of which is from the daughter of a relative of Skandiamannen. Its detractors criticize the series for leaving no room for doubt, while the attorney general who closed the investigation admitted


Antoine Jacob

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