4 Oct. 2021 12:38

A head-on collision with a truck killed the Swedish cartoonist of Mohammed Lars Vilks and two police officers who accompanied him. Investigations have been launched. Vilks had previously received death threats, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt and was under police protection.

On Sunday afternoon, the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks was in a police vehicle, accompanied by two police officers, on the two-lane E4 motorway near the town of Markaryd. He was on his way home after visiting two friends for dinner.

His vehicle is said to have got into the wrong lane at high speed for reasons that have not yet been clarified, as a result of which it collided with a truck. Both vehicles caught fire. At first it was said that two police officers and a guard had died. Then it became public that the third victim was Vilks himself.

The truck driver, a 45-year-old man, sustained serious injuries but survived the accident. At the hospital he was already questioned by the police.

Police spokesman Rickard Lundqvist stated:

“At the moment I cannot say whether there are criminal suspicions.”

The search for clues should bring clarification

Since police officers were also killed in the accident, the special prosecutor’s office is investigating. The highway was closed, a helicopter and a dog squadron were in use. There are many indications that it is an accident, say the police.

There is still no clear statement on this. The police emphasized on Sunday that the investigation was in a “very early stage”. The section of the E4 carriageway on which the collision occurred had been rebuilt several times to increase traffic safety. The police vehicle is said to have been traveling at very high speed. At a press conference on Monday, the Swedish police announced that a tire explosion could have been the cause of the accident. There were no indications of an attack, according to the head of the regional investigative body for personal protection in the south police station, Stefan Sintéus. However, it cannot be ruled out either.

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Vilks has been under police protection since 2007. The reason was a drawing by him in which he painted the prophet Mohammed as a dog. In February 2015 he escaped an assassination attempt in which a Danish citizen with Palestinian roots tried to kill him. Instead, the assassin murdered Danish filmmaker Finn Nørgaard and injured three police officers. He then killed a Jewish security guard in front of a synagogue and injured two other police officers. Eventually he was shot dead by the police.

The spokesman for the Swedish Greens (Miljöpartiet), Simon Larsson, expressed his condolences:

“So horrible to read that Lars Vilks and two police officers were killed in a traffic accident. His artistic skills were great and he paid a high price for his artistry and freedom of speech. My warmest thoughts are with his loved ones.”

The Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven also expressed his grief:

“It was with great sadness that I received the news yesterday that Lars Vilks and two police officers had died in a car accident. Vilks has been forced to live in bondage since 2010 because he used his freedom of expression (…)”

More on the subject – Denmark: Creator of the controversial Mohammed cartoons has died

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