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Hans Holmer, Famed Officer, Dies

October 6, 2002

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Hans Holmer, the former police commissioner who led the first investigation of assassinated Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and then resigned amid criticism, has died. He was 71.

Holmer died Friday night at a hospital in Malmoe, 310 miles south of the capital, Stockholm, after a long illness, his publisher, Unn Palm, said Sunday.

Born Dec. 28, 1930, in Stockholm, Holmer spent most of his life in law enforcement, starting as a district prosecutor in Stockholm in 1963. He became a director of the Swedish Police in 1966 and then head of the country’s security service, SAPO, in 1970. He was appointed commissioner of the Stockholm Police in 1976 and the Stockholm county police department in 1984.

After Palme was shot and killed on a Stockholm street in 1986 as he and his wife walked home unguarded from a downtown movie theater, Holmer investigated suspicions that Abdullah Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, was behing the killing.

Palme’s government had declared the PKK, which was fighting the Turkish government for Kurdish autonomy, a terrorist organization.

Palme’s death shook the Scandinavian nation of 8.9 million and has never been solved.

Holmer resigned in 1987 after he was criticized for his handling of the case, particularly for focusing on the PKK.

Swedish investigators have said they don’t consider Ocalan a suspect, and he denied having been involved in the assassination. But he also has said rebels who broke away from his group may have had a hand in the assassination.

Afterward, Holmer worked as a narcotics expert for the United Nations in Vienna and spent much of the 1990s in the village of Andersloev near Malmoe, writing detective stories.

At the time of his death he was working on a book on the Palme case ``which he really wanted to bring out,″ Palm told The Associated Press.

``He was a very fair, decent and sympathetic person. He was very committed and he was convinced that many of the tracks (in the Palme case) were not properly followed up,″ she said.

Holmer is survived by his wife Aasa and three children from a previous marriage.

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