Per Olof Svensson took a break from the soccer match on TV and stepped outside the pub to catch a breath of fresh air. That's when plainclothes police nabbed him in a Stockholm suburb last Tuesday night. Police say Svensson, although not formally charged, is a suspect in the Sept. 10 stabbing death of Anna Lindh, Sweden's popular Foreign Minister, in the upscale NK department store in central Stockholm. Swedish newspapers said Svensson, 35, was a high school dropout and had been convicted of more than 40 past crimes, including gross fraud, violence, physical abuse, theft and threats with a knife. Police used closed-circuit television pictures in the store to identify Svensson. The lead investigator on the case, Leif Jennekvist, said Svensson is "not unlike the man in the NK pictures." DNA tests were conducted on a cap recovered near the scene, but police would not release the results, though on Friday they asked a court to detain Svensson an additional week. Svensson's lawyer, Gunnar Falk, said his client "rejects any involvement in the case."
In addition to past episodes of football hooliganism, Svensson was said to have neo-Nazi sympathies. "The man mixes with right extremist circles and is also a friend of some of Sweden's most notorious neo-Nazis," reported the daily Aftonbladet. Daniel Poohl, who works for the Expo foundation, which monitors right-wing extremism in Sweden, told TIME that Svensson was not a leading figure in the far right and probably lived "on the periphery of Nazi groups." The far right has a violent past in Sweden, having killed two policemen and a left-wing labor activist in 1999. Poohl said that Lindh may have been targeted by Svensson because she was a symbol of the ruling Social Democratic Party, "which in the far right's eyes is responsible for the multicultural society in Sweden, such as bringing immigrants into the country."
Last Friday some 1,300 people, including British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Foreign Ministers Joschka Fischer of Germany and Dominique de Villepin of France, attended a solemn memorial service at Stockholm's City Hall. "Anna Lindh is no longer with us. That idea still feels so foreign, so difficult to accept," said Prime Minister Göran Persson. A week after the stabbing, the country's mood remained grim and unsteady, as hundreds of Swedes gathered daily outside the NK department store to leave flowers and sign a book. So many flowers had been gathered that they formed a memorial wreath 3 m wide and 1.5 m high. "She was the best politician in Sweden and we're going to have a tough future without her," said Katerina Ojteg. "She did many good things." Sweden could use her talents now