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Scores of World Leaders Attend Funeral for Palme

March 16, 1986|From Times Wire Services

STOCKHOLM — Olof Palme was laid to rest Saturday in a small graveyard near the spot where a gunman took his life. Scores of world leaders and tens of thousands of Swedes paid final tribute to the assassinated statesman.

Church bells tolled as 12 children pulled the carriage containing Palme's white coffin through the streets of Stockholm, where an estimated 150,000 Swedes gathered beneath slate-gray skies in bitter cold to pay their respects.

Moving behind the carriage was a limousine carrying Palme's wife, Lisbeth, and their three sons.

Palme's casket was lowered into the ground in the Adolf Fredrik churchyard as dusk descended. The 18th-Century churchyard is 200 yards from the street corner where Palme was killed by an assassin Feb. 28.

Police have been holding a 32-year-old Swedish right-winger on suspicion of involvement in the murder, but no formal charges have been filed against him so far, and under Swedish law he must be released today if none are made.

The private graveside ceremony, led by Stockholm Bishop Krister Stendahl, ended a day of mourning for Palme, the first democratic leader in Europe to be assassinated.

It began with a secular service at Stockholm City Hall attended by dignitaries from 125 nations, including Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Premier Nikolai I. Ryzhkov. A U.N. symbol inscribed with the words "Peace and Freedom" in 12 languages stood before Palme's flower-covered coffin.

"The death of Olof Palme means that we Swedes have lost our principal spokesman on behalf of democracy, solidarity and peace," Ingvar Carlsson, the new prime minister, told the 13 presidents, 19 prime ministers and 1,600 other dignitaries at the funeral.

Among the leaders attending the services were Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, French President Francois Mitterrand, East German leader Erich Honecker, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Five countries--Afghanistan, Cambodia, Chile, Paraguay and South Africa--were not invited to send delegations to the funeral in a pointed demonstration of Palme's fight for human rights.

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