STOCKHOLM, Sweden – In an abrupt about face, police freed one suspect and arrested another Wednesday in the stabbing death of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh (search).
Authorities would not say why the 35-year-old drifter picked up last week was let go, but they said evidence against the new suspect was stronger than anything they had before.
Police would only say the suspect was arrested without incident in Stockholm.
"We have stronger suspicions against this suspect than the previous one, but we're not releasing any details," police spokesman Lars Groenskog said.
Still haunted by the unsolved 1986 murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme (search), police said they were examining every possibility in the hunt for Lindh's killer.
The investigation first centered on a suspect held for a week after prosecutors said there was "reasonable cause" he stabbed Lindh in a crowded department store Sept. 10. The unidentified man was released Wednesday.
In announcing the arrest of a new suspect, prosecutor Agneta Blidberg said Wednesday authorities had "probable cause," to believe he was involved in the killing — a higher level of suspicion in the Swedish justice system.
Police can hold a suspect for three days before they are required to get a court-approved detention order to keep him in custody for another week.
Lindh's death sent shock waves across this Scandinavian country of 9 million and evoked painful memories of the Palme murder. Palme, like Lindh, had no bodyguards when he was killed.
In the Palme investigation, one suspect was taken into custody and released after a week. Another suspect was convicted but acquitted after he appealed. Unlike the Lindh investigation, however, police never found the murder weapon used to kill the prime minister.
"The most important difference is that they have much better clues this time, even if witness information could be just as unreliable as in the Palme investigation," said Christian Diesen, a Stockholm University law professor.
"They have the murder weapon, they have DNA traces and other technical evidence, plus pictures from a surveillance camera. The conditions for solving this are very good."
Diesen said even if police have found the man shown on surveillance tapes from the Nordiska Kompaniet (search) department store moments before the attack, they still have to tie him to the murder. Cameras didn't record the actual attack.
The previous suspect in Lindh's murder, whose name was never released, was arrested after police said he appeared to match the surveillance camera pictures. Investigators acknowledged the evidence against him wasn't conclusive, but managed to win a one-week detention order.
The man had denied any role in Lindh's killing.
Lead investigator Leif Jennekvist said the latest suspect also appeared to match the man seen on the surveillance camera wearing a baseball cap and a hooded sweater.
He declined to comment on any other evidence gathered, including whether DNA tests would be done on the new suspect. He also refused to say what results were gathered from DNA analysis on the former suspect.
Peter Althin, a well-known lawyer in Sweden, was appointed to represent the man arrested Wednesday. Althin, who also represents a Swede detained in Guantanamo Bay by the United States, told The Associated Press he had not yet spoken to his client.
Lindh died Sept. 11 after several hours in surgery as doctors struggled to stem severe internal bleeding and damage to her stomach and liver.
Police do not believe the attack was planned or politically motivated, although it came just three days before Swedes voted in a referendum on adopting the euro, which failed.
Lindh was a leading campaigner for replacing the Swedish krona with the common currency — an issue that had inspired vehement opposition.