Subject: The man accused of murdering the Swedish foreign minister, Anna Lindh, has confessed to stabbing her in a "random" attack, his lawyer said yesterday.
Prosecutors said they would now move to formally charge Mijailo Mijailovic, a 25-year-old Swede of Serbian origin, as early as next week, and to have him put on trial soon afterwards.
If found guilty, as seems almost certain after yesterday's confession, he faces a custodial sentence of between 10 years and life.
Lindh's stabbing on September 10 last year was initially thought to be politically motivated and linked to the country's impending referendum on the euro, which saw Swedes reject the single currency by 56% to 42%.
The murder sent shockwaves through Europe's political elite, triggered a national outpouring of grief, and robbed Sweden of a woman tipped to become the country's next prime minister.
But Peter Althin, Mr Mijailovic's lawyer, contended yesterday that the murder was not politically motivated. "He told us that he attacked Anna Lindh and inflicted the wounds that led to her death. There was no political motive whatsoever and no planning," he said.
When asked by Swedish radio whether it was a random act, Mr Althin said: "Yes, you could say that."
Prosecutors expressed relief at the confession, but said they had already collected strong evidence against Mr Mijailovic, including DNA matches with blood found on the murder weapon and with hairs found in a baseball cap discarded by the killer.
The police refused to reveal details of the confession, but Mr Mijailovic has a history of mental problems and unstable behaviour, including convictions for stabbing his father in the back and face, illegal possession of a gun, and for making threatening telephone calls to two women.
A psychiatric report after his 1997 attack on his father concluded that he was "in great need of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic efforts".
When asked last September which lawyer he wanted to represent him, he named Tom Cruise.
Mr Althin said yesterday that his client might face more psychiatric tests before the trial. If found to be mentally ill, he will be sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment, instead of going to jail.
Friends of Mr Mijailovic claim that he harboured a long-standing grudge against Lindh because of her vocal support for Nato's bombing of Serb forces in Kosovo in 1999. They claim he had bragged about wanting to kill someone famous in order to boost his feelings of self-worth.
Lindh's murder has aroused painful memories of the unsolved killing of the Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme, in 1986, so there was widespread relief yesterday that police had apparently finally got their man in this case - particularly since they initially arrested someone else.
"If the suspect had been sentenced without having confessed, this could have led to years of speculation about whether the right person was sentenced," the justice minister, Thomas Bodstroen, said.
"There must never again be the same trauma as we have seen in Sweden."