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Europe

Swedish Minister's Killer Gets Life Sentence

Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh's assassin was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday. Confessed murderer Mijailo Mijailovic will also have to pay €16,270 in damages to Lindh's husband and two children.

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Confessed killer Mijailovic faces around 15 years in jail.

Mijailovic claimed voices in his head told him to kill Anna Lindh, who he knived 10 times in a Stockholm department store in September. The defense had argued that the 25-year-old was psychologically disturbed and should have been charged with manslaughter. But psychiatric tests determined Mijailovic had been sane when he attacked Lindh.

"The deed which Mijailo Mijailovic is guilty of warrants a very severe penalty," a written statement released by the Stockholm court said. "As no mitigating circumstances have come to light, he is therefore sentenced to life in prison."

A life sentence in Sweden usually means 15 years in jail.

The court also ordered Mijailovic to pay 50,000 Swedish crowns (around €5,420 or $6,650) in damages each to Lindh's husband Bo Holmberg and their two sons.

Mentally accountable

Mijailovic's lawyer, Peter Althin, has three weeks to contest the court's decision. Althin had asked for a reassessment of the tests that verified Mijailovic's mental health, which the court rejected. Mijailovic had received psychiatric counseling in the past and had sought help shortly before the attack.

Trauer um Anna Lindh Blumen

Portraits of Anna Lindh were placed in front of government buildings and the department stores where she was killed in Stockholm where mourners could place flowers and light candles after her death on Sept. 11.

The popular foreign minister, who was tipped as Sweden's next prime minister, died the day after the attack. Mijailovic, 25, was arrested two weeks later.

The son of Serbian immigrants initially denied the accusations against him but finally confessed to killing Lindh in January. By then investigators were in possession of incriminating evidence, including DNA samples, that implicated Mijailovic.

Motives remain unclear

Even now that the trial has come to an end Mijailovic's motives remain in the dark. Public prosecutor Agneta Blidberg suggested that Mijailovic was driven by hate of strong, independent, successful women in her final speech to the court. Mijailovic has denied he killed Lindh for political reasons. "I'm not interested in politics," he told prosecutor Krister Petersson. "I have nothing personal against Lindh."

At the time of the attack, Lindh's face was plastered all over Stockholm on posters urging Swedes to vote to join the European common currency, the euro, which failed in a referendum three days after the politician died.

Lindh's death was the second assassination of a politician in Sweden in the modern era. The country continues to dwell on the unresolved assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme outside a Stockholm movie theater in 1986. In a country where politicians cultivate the impression that they are normal citizens, even Lindh's death has only caused very few of them to accept having bodyguards.

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