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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Mentally ill - Carried out the attack because of "voices in his head"
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 10, 2003
Date of arrest: 6 days after
Date of birth: December 6, 1978
Victim profile: Anna Lindh, 46  (Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment on December 2, 2004

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Mijailo Mijailović (Serbian Cyrillic: Мијаило Мијаиловић, born December 6, 1978 in Stockholm, Sweden to Serbian immigrant parents) is the self-confessed and convicted assassin of the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Anna Lindh, who was assassinated on September 10, 2003.

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 p.m., she was attacked while shopping in the ladies' department 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 she appeared to have improved after the surgery. One hour after concluding the initial nine-hour surgery, complications forced resumption of surgery. At 5:29 a.m. local time all means to save her life had been exhausted and Anna Lindh was pronounced dead.

The assassin 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 an image of a man, 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 outside the department store, in the vicinity of a Stockholm Metro station. At the scene of the crime the police were able to secure a handprint, also believed to be connected to the killer. Images from the department store's surveillance system, showing the suspect, were published on September 13 and September 14.

A man 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 Mijailović, born in Sweden to Serb parents, had been apprehended and arrested, at the higher level of suspicion, probable cause. This was likely because evidence suggested 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 Mijailović matches that of hairs found on the baseball cap, left at or near the scene of the crime. He also resembles the man filmed in the store where Lindh was attacked.

After previously having denied all involvement, on January 6, 2004, Mijailović admitted to the crime and gave a full account of the events on September 10, in an extra session of police questioning requested by Peter Althin, Mijailović's counsel.

Swedish newspapers have suggested that Mijailović was released from a mental institution just five days before the killing of Lindh, that he has serious mental problems, and had previously been convicted of violent crimes. Mijailović is said to have been greatly angered by Lindh's staunch support for the U.S.-led military campaign against Serbia during 1999.

On January 6, 2004, after being presented with the evidence against him, he confessed to the police that he killed Anna Lindh. The court trial against Mijailović took place January 14-17, 2004. He was found guilty, but the sentencing was postponed to await the recommendations of a psychiatric evaluation ordered by the court.

On March 9 a report concluded that Mijailović was not considered to be criminally insane at the time of the assassination, and on March 23 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. However, on July 8, an appeals court overturned that sentence after tests had concluded that he was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killing. As a result of the appeals court decision, Mijailović was taken from prison to a closed psychiatric ward.

Mijailović was for some time a citizen of both Serbia and Montenegro and of Sweden, but after the crime applied to have his Swedish citizenship revoked. His application was granted by the Swedish National Migration Board on September 20, 2004; however this did not have any effect on the judicial process.

On December 2, 2004, Mijailović was sentenced by the Supreme Court of Sweden to life imprisonment for the killing of Anna Lindh, overruling the appeals court judgement.


Court overturns Lindh killer sentence

BBC News

Thursday, 8 July, 2004

An appeals court in Sweden has thrown out the life prison sentence imposed on the man who killed Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh last year.

Mijailo Mijailovic, 25, will now be taken from prison to a closed psychiatric ward after tests concluded he was suffering a mental illness.

An initial psychiatric assessment after his arrest concluded he was not mentally ill when he killed Lindh.

The minister was hugely popular and her death shocked Sweden.


She died of her injuries on 11 September last year, a day after Mijailovic stabbed her while she was out shopping in a Stockholm department store.

The appeals court said Mijailovic needed psychiatric care because he was a "traumatised person with significant psychiatric problems".

Mijailovic's lawyer Peter Althin said he was satisfied with the ruling.

"I am an optimist," he said. "So when the experts were of the opinion that there was a serious mental disturbance, I would have been somewhat surprised if the appeals court hadn't agreed that he needed psychiatric care."

Chief Prosecutor Agneta Blidberg was quoted as saying she accepted the verdict but did not say whether she would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mijailovic would have gone to prison for 15 years, the normal term in Sweden for those sentenced to life, but now he faces being placed in a psychiatric institute for criminals.

However, there are no time limits for psychiatric patients, and some experts say he could be set free in a matter of months if deemed healthy.

This process involves a review by a county administrative court at which prosecutors are entitled to put their case.


The court did uphold the guilty verdict against Mijailovic for murdering Lindh.

His defence had sought the lesser charge of manslaughter, arguing Mijailovic had not intended to kill the politician.

Mr Althin had told the court Mijailovic had heard voices telling him to attack Lindh, but that they said nothing about killing her.

The killing was an "impulsive act", he said, adding that it was a "coincidence" Mijailovic's victim was Anna Lindh.

But the court ruled: "It has been proven that Mijailo Mijailovic was completely indifferent as to whether Anna Lindh would die of her stab wounds and he therefore had intent to kill."

Lindh had been tipped as a future prime minister.

Her death stunned a nation which had still not come to terms with the unsolved killing in 1986 of the then prime minister, Olof Palme.


Lindh killer gets life for murder

BBC News

Tuesday, 23 March, 2004

The man who admitted knifing Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in a Stockholm department store has been jailed for life for murder.

Mijailo Mijailovic, 25, had denied murder, insisting he carried out the attack because of "voices in his head".

But psychiatric tests declared he was sane when he carried out the attack last September.

A court in Stockholm ruled on Tuesday that he was guilty of murder, not manslaughter.

The court said that Mijailovic knew what he was doing when he stabbed Ms Lindh repeatedly, noting the severity and violence of the attack.

"He used a life-threatening weapon. He held the knife with both hands when he delivered the blows... the force was powerful," the court said in a statement.

"The location and the size of the stab wounds indicates that the intention was to kill.

"It is beyond reasonable doubt that Mijailo Mijailovic intended to kill Anna Lindh."

He will serve at least 10 years before his sentence can be reviewed.

A law professor in Stockholm predicted that Mijailovic would remain in prison "a long time".

"In practice there are no rules. Since no explanations are required for pardons or rejected pardons, every case gets a different treatment," Josef Zila told the French news agency AFP.

Partial confession

Mijailovic, born in Sweden to Serbian parents, had confessed to repeatedly stabbing the popular minister while she was out shopping, but insisted he did not intend to kill her.

His lawyers had sought a manslaughter verdict and psychiatric care for him.

His defence lawyer attempted to challenge the psychiatrists' findings that he was sane, but the court rejected a review of the tests.

The defence has three weeks if it wants to file an appeal.

Mijailovic's lawyer Peter Althin said he would have to consult his client before deciding whether to do so.

Ms Lindh died of her injuries in hospital on 11 September, a day after the stabbing.

Initial reports of the attack suggested she was not badly hurt, but doctors found severe internal injuries and could not save her despite an all-night battle.

The murder shocked Sweden. She had been tipped as a possible future prime minister, and her death came as she helped campaign for a "yes" vote in Sweden's euro membership referendum.

The measure was defeated by a slim margin.

The case also reawakened memories of the killing of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986, a murder which was never solved.

Still haunted by that killing, Swedes are relieved that Anna Lindh's murderer was caught, and that he has now been sentenced, the BBC's Lars Bevanger in Stockholm says.


Profile: Mijailo Mijailovic

BBC News

Tuesday, 23 March, 2004

Mijailo Mijailovic was so impressed by Tom Cruise that he allegedly demanded the American film star assist his defence in court.

When Sweden's foreign minister Anna Lindh was killed, police initially thought they were dealing with a politically motivated crime linked to the controversial referendum on the euro - which was just days away.

That speculation has long since dried up.

The question which has subsequently been asked is why Mijailovic, who has a history of psychiatric problems, was not already being detained.


Mijailovic was born in Sweden in 1978 to Serbian emigres.

The family is believed to have come from the village of Przutiovac - his grandfather emigrated to Sweden in 1970 to work in a factory, although he has since returned.

The suspect spent a few years at school in Serbia before returning to Sweden, where he attended high school before dropping out.

His youth appears to have been marked by family disputes.

In 1997, he was convicted of assault for stabbing his father repeatedly in the back and behind the ear with a kitchen knife.

Mijailovic told the court he wanted to stop an argument between his parents, but could not recall the actual attack on his father, who survived.

He was subsequently sentenced to probation. A psychiatric evaluation in connection with the 1997 trial found Mijailovic "in great need of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic efforts".

Other court documents show that he has convictions for illegal gun possession and making threatening phone calls to two women.

Although the killing of Ms Lindh is not thought to have been politically motivated in the usual sense, Mijailovic is believed to have been obsessed by several famous people and allegedly hated the Swedish foreign minister for backing the Nato air strikes against Belgrade during the 1999 Kosovo war.

According to one psychiatric evaluation, Mijailovic said he was interested in "injustices in the world" but was unable to elaborate on these.

Psychiatric tests carried out after the end of the trial declared that Mr Mijailovic was sane at the time of the killing - despite his claim to have been directed by "voices in his head".

The decision prompted the court hearing the trial to impose the sentence that many in Sweden wanted: life in prison for murder.


Anna Lindh trial - transcript

BBC News

Wednesday, 14 January, 2004

The self-confessed killer of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh has told a Stockholm court that voices in his head made him attack the politician.

Mijailo Mijailovic, who denies murder, was cross examined on Wednesday afternoon. Below are key excerpts from a transcription published on the website of Swedish radio Ekot.

Mijailo Mijailovic was cross-examined by Prosecutor Khrister Petersson after the lunch interval on Wednesday (14 January). He gave brief answers and became irritated when pressed by the prosecutor.

He talked about what he did on 10 September, how he travelled into Stockholm, visited various shops and ended up in the NK department store.

However, he had no exact recollection of what he did there and how, he said. He "was feeling very poorly".

Defence solicitor Peter Althin asked Mr Mijailovic about the tablets he takes and he replied that he had been given tablets.

He said he takes 10 tablets a day in custody, primarily anti-depressants.

"It is in order to sleep better and not hear voices. The tablets are better than the ones I used to take," Mr Mijailovic said in the (police) interview which has been archived.

Mr Althin said Mr Mijailovic felt very poorly on 10 September.

Mr Althin: "How did you feel?"

Mr Mijailovic: "I felt unhappy and depressed. I was carrying a knife and wearing a bullet-proof vest when I went into town on 10th."

Mr Althin: "Did you have any particular errand on 10 September?"

Mr Mijailovic: "No, I didn't."

Mr Althin: "You were in PUB and NK (department stores)?"

Mr Mijailovic: "Yes, I was. I was just walking around there. I could not withstand the voice - it said 'attack, attack'."

Mr Althin: "You can't remember if you stabbed once or twice?"

Mr Mijailovic: "No, I can't remember."

Mr Althin: "Why did you throw away the knife?"

Mr Mijailovic: "I panicked."

Mr Althin: "You have talked to relatives and friends about what you did?"

Mr Mijailovic: "Yes, I have."

Mr Althin: "It seems contradictory to talk about it and destroy evidence?"

Mr Mijailovic: "Yes, I don't know how I work."

Mr Althin: "You watched television all night. What did you think about?"

Mr Mijailovic: "I hoped that she would live."

Mr Althin: "What do you feel now?"

Mr Mijailovic: "I feel regret."

Mr Althin: "What happened when you went (to seek medical assistance) after the incident?"

Mr Mijailovic: "I was given tablets and then they threw me out."

Mr Althin: "You were living at home in the days before the police took you into custody?"

Mr Mijailovic: "Yes, I was living at home at that time."

Mr Althin: "You have heard the accusations that you saw her on level one?"

Mr Mijailovic: "No, I haven't."

Mr Althin: "Why her exactly?"

Mr Mijailovic: "I don't know."

Mr Althin: "It was an event that happened at random, you say. Is this a correct description?"

Mr Mijailovic: "Yes it is."

Mr Althin: "Is there anything you wish to raise or say?"

Mr Mijailovic: "No, there is nothing I want to say."

Mr Althin: "Can you live with what you just said?"

Mr Mijailovic: "Yes."

Mr Althin: "A question from the court about the voices. How long have you been hearing them?"

Mr Mijailovic: "For several years."

Mr Althin: "You feel sorrow about what happened, you say. What should have happened?"

"It should not have happened like this," the accused said.



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