The prime suspect in the Anna Lindh murder case was still being questioned by Swedish police last night as his alleged links with the far-right neo-Nazi movement emerged.
Police sources have said that he is an associate of “some of Sweden’s most notorious neo-Nazi figures”, stoking speculation that Lindh’s murder was politically motivated, and not the work of a madman.
The 35-year-old – Per-Olof Svensson, according to sources – is said to be a good likeness of the baseball cap-clad suspect seen on CCTV in the NK department store where Lindh was fatally stabbed last Wednesday.
Ad: Vacation? City Trip? Weekend Break? Book Skip-the-line tickets
Svensson, who appears to have no fixed abode, has 18 convictions for fraud, robbery and threatening behaviour with a knife. He has also already served eight months in jail for aggravated fraud.
At court appearances in the past he has claimed to be a cocaine addict and an alcoholic.
He is not insane, say psychiatrists who have examined him, though he does suffer “a narcissistic personality”.
He was arrested in Solna, northern Stockholm during a football game shown in the East End Company sports bar near the Rasunda stadium on Tuesday night .
“The man was informed of our suspicions of him being guilty of the murder and answered a few questions,” said a police spokeswoman.
His arrest followed tip-offs from the public, possibly even from Mr Svensson’s relatives. His girlfriend has already been questioned as were two others who apparently knew him.
Although the Swedish far-right is not a force at the ballot box, it is well organised and has perpetrated violence recently, including murdering policemen and trade unionists.
Experts say that Lindh, the country’s popular foreign minister, could well have been a target for neo-Nazis.
“She was very much into speaking about democratic values and was a friend, let us say, of the global community,” said Richard Slatt, a journalist on Expo magazine which monitors the far-right.
“The far-right is always speaking about a racist holy war and the biggest enemy for them is democratic politicians and institutions because the politicians are the ones who make it possible for immigrants to come into Sweden.”
More than a million of Sweden’s nine million-strong population are of foreign origin.
Police carried out house searches across Stockholm at places where Svensson may have stayed.
Police warned yesterday that the case against him is not yet “very strong.”
“Besides this man we have five to 10 people we are still interested in. But the man we have taken in has priority because we have little time,” said a police spokeswoman.
Police say they will know the outcome of a DNA test on the baseball cap this morning.
Swedish tabloids reported yesterday that Svensson is bisexual, from a broken home, and that his father was a military man.
The detained man’s lawyer, Gunnar Falk, said last night: “I just met my client and during the hearings he said he had nothing to do with the murder of Anna Lindh.”