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Swedish Justice Minister Quits Over Bungles in Spy's Escape

October 19, 1987|From Reuters

STOCKHOLM — Swedish Justice Minister Sten Wickbom resigned today, saying he took full responsibility for a series of bungles that led to the escape of a convicted Soviet spy during a conjugal visit.

The spy, Stig Bergling, slipped out of his wife's Stockholm apartment after he was left unguarded during a 24-hour leave on Oct. 5. They have disappeared.

Wickbom told a news conference he should have been aware of information concerning Bergling's home leave which was available within the Justice Ministry before the spy's escape.

Bergling was jailed for life in 1979 after admitting selling military secrets to the Soviet Union.

After his escape, a series of mix-ups between prison and police authorities resulted in a 12-hour delay before a national alarm was raised and border guards were alerted.

Wickbom was also strongly criticized following the murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was assassinated by a lone gunman in February, 1986.

Wickbom was accused of making mistakes in the organization of the unsuccessful police hunt for Palme's killer. But he said today's decision to resign had nothing to do with the Palme investigation.

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