Sweden: No foul play in death of cartoonist Lars Vilks, officials say | News | DW

Sweden: No foul play in death of cartoonist Lars Vilks, officials say | News | DW

A police car crash that resulted in the death of cartoonist Lars Vilks and two others last year was an accident, Swedish authorities confirmed Wednesday.

What did the Swedish government say?

The Swedish government determined the crash in October in Markaryd was a “tragic accident” and authorities ended the probe into the event following “extensive examination, with technical investigations on the identify and the questioning of witnesses.”

The police car carrying Vilks was traveling down the E4 highway in southern Sweden when it collided with a truck and caught fire. Two police officers also died in the event.

“In summary, it most likely that a tire on the police means exploded and then the driver lost control of the means, which came over on the side of the road and collided head-on with the truck,” Swedish Chief Prosecutor Per Nichols said in a statement online. “The extensive investigation now shows no crime has been committed.”

Earlier suspicions of targeted killing

The death of 75-year-old Vilks had prompted suspicions of a targeted terrorist attack, as the cartoonist before drew controversial pictures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Vilks was under continued police protection prior to the crash

One of the drawings, which presented Muhammad with the body of a dog, was published by Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda in 2007. The publication led to outrage across the Muslim world, in countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Egypt.

Vilks often received death threats for the caricatures and lived under police protection. There had also been past attempts to kill Vilks.

An attack at a Copenhagen art exhibition organized by Vilks left one dead and three injured in February 2015. The shooting, which came one month after the Charlie Hebdo gun rampage in Paris, was believed to have been targeting the cartoonist.

Earlier in his life, Vilks received a doctorate in art history and worked as a professor at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts in Norway. 

AP news agency contributed to this report

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