TOCKHOLM, Sweden, Jan. 14 — On the
first day of his trial, the confessed killer of Anna Lindh, Sweden's
foreign minister, denied today that he had intended to kill her but
said he could not ignore voices in his head telling him to
Ms. Lindh, 46, died of multiple stab wounds one day after she was
attacked in a Stockholm department store while she was shopping last
Sept. 10. She had no bodyguard with her at the time and her death
stunned a nation that never quite came to terms with the still
unsolved murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986.
"I couldn't resist the voices" urging him to attack Ms. Lindh,
Mijailo Mijailovic, a 25-year-old Swede of Yugoslavian descent, told
a subterranean high-security court near Stockholm's city center. Mr.
Mijailovic was arrested last Sept. 24. Swedish police are priding
themselves on bringing rapid closure to a case that re-opened the
profound self-questioning inspired by Mr. Palme's death.
"It was very important that the police found this man," said
Henning Mankell, a leading Swedish writer of police thrillers that
evoke many of the dark conflicts of Swedish society. "Almost 20
years after Palme was killed we still did not know who did it," Mr.
Mankell said in a telephone interview.
Clad in black sweatshirt and track-suit pants, Mr. Mijailovic,
sat on the front bench of a brightly lighted courtroom, sometimes
fidgeting but speaking in even and unemotional tones after
prosecutors used images taken by surveillance cameras to coax his
memories of the day he stabbed Ms. Lindh.
In a confession made public last week after earlier insisting
that he was innocent, Mr. Mijailovic said he believed the voices in
his head had come from Jesus Christ. He said today the voices had
spoken in Serbian.
Prosecutors also displayed photographs of the red-handled knife
with its slightly bloodied four-inch blade that Mr. Mijailovic said
he had thrown away as he fled the NK department store after
attacking Ms. Lindh.
At the time of the killing — just before a referendum in which
Sweden rejected the euro single currency against the advice of
pro-euro figures, like Ms. Lindh — some people questioned whether he
had acted for political reasons.
Ms. Lindh, a Social Democrat, was one of Sweden's most popular
politicians and had been thought of as a potential future prime
But under questioning from the chief prosecutor, Krister
Petersson, Mr. Mijailovic declared today: "I'm not interested in
politics. It could have been someone other than Anna Lindh."
Mr. Mijailovic's defense lawyer, Peter Althin, demanded that
murder charges against his client be withdrawn because Mr.
Mijailovic had not planned the killing in advance and had not
intended to take a life. "There was no political motive and no
intent to kill," Mr. Althin said.
"Did the voices say anything about killing?" Mr. Althin asked Mr.
"No," he replied.
The images from surveillance cameras showed Mr. Mijailovic
wearing olive trousers, a light gray hooded top and a navy blue
baseball cap as he criss-crossed the atrium of the department
The images did not show the attack itself.
Prosecutors insisted that the stabbing was premeditated, arguing
that the images from surveillance cameras showed Mr. Mijailovic
stalking Ms. Lindh for 14 minutes. Prosecutors also said that tests
had revealed Mr. Mijailovic's DNA on the knife used in the killing
and traces of Ms. Lindh's blood on his clothes.
Mr. Mijailovic insisted that he had not been following Ms. Lindh
and had seen her only by accident. "I was on my way out but I took a
wrong turn," he said. "I saw Anna Lindh. Then the voices came."
Mr. Mijailovic said he was carrying the knife — a well-known and
widely available brand in Sweden — because he was feeling anxious
and tired. Mr. Althin, his defense lawyer, said Mr. Mijailovic had
been using anti-depressants that may have been wrongly