Cartoonist’s fatal car crash in Sweden an accident, authorities say

15 June 2022, 15:14

Lars Vilks
Sweden Accident Vilks. Picture: PA

Lars Vilks had lived under police protection since his controversial 2007 sketch of the Prophet Mohammed.

The police car crash in Sweden that killed artist Lars Vilks was an accident, Swedish authorities have said, not a targeted attack on the cartoonist who lived under police protection since his controversial 2007 sketch of the Prophet Mohammed.

An exploding tyre led the driver of the unmarked police car carrying Mr Vilks to lose control over the vehicle, which crashed head-on with a truck on October 4 last year, Swedish authorities said in a statement.

The crash killed three people, including the 75-year-old cartoonist.

Since Mr Vilks was facing death threats for his drawings and had faced previous attempts on his life, the crash raised the question of whether it was a terror attack instead of an accident.

But the Swedish Prosecution Authority said it was “a tragic accident” as it announced the closure of the investigation into the crash after an “extensive analysis, with technical investigations on the spot and the questioning of witnesses”.

The scene of the traffic accident in Sweden
The scene of the traffic accident in Sweden (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)

“In summary, it is most likely that a tyre on the police vehicle exploded and then the driver lost control of the vehicle, which came over on the other side of the road and collided head-on with the truck,” said chief prosecutor Per Nichols. ”The extensive investigation now shows that no crime has been committed.”

In parallel with the prosecutor’s investigation, police had conducted a preliminary investigation into possible murder in the case. That probe, which also was closed on Wednesday, concluded it was an accident.

Mr Vilks was largely unknown outside Sweden before his Prophet Mohammed drawing.

At home, he was best known for building a sculpture of driftwood in a nature reserve in southern Sweden without permission, triggering a lengthy legal battle. He was fined, but the seaside sculpture – a jumble of wood nailed together in chaotic fashion – still draws tens of thousands of visitors a year.

The artist’s life changed radically after he drew a sketch of the Prophet Mohammed with a dog’s body. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favourable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Al Qaida put a bounty on Mr Vilks’ head. In 2010, two men tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden and in 2014 a woman from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in a plot to try to kill him.

The following year, a free-speech seminar that Mr Vilks attended in Copenhagen, Denmark, was attacked by a lone gunman who killed a Danish film director and wounded three police officers.

Mr Vilks, who was widely believed to have been the intended target of that 2015 attack, was whisked away unharmed by bodyguards.

The gunman later killed a Jewish security guard outside a synagogue and wounded two more officers before he was killed in a firefight with police.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Smoke rises from building

Russian missiles target Kyiv as troops consolidate gains in the east

Climate activists in rally

Climate club: How Germany hopes to keep G7 leaders’ focus on the environment

Breaking
The incident happened in the town of East London in Eastern Cape

At least 17 young people found dead in South African nightclub

Pro-choice supporters

Abortion rights supporters and opponents map next move

Migrants at Spanish border

Death toll from ‘stampede’ at Spanish border in Morocco climbs to 23

A boy holds his pet dog as his family evacuated from the war-hit area gets on an evacuation train in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, June 25, 2022

Russia edges closer to swallowing up Ukraine’s last remaining Luhansk stronghold

US Rep Mary Miller, of Illinois, speaks as former President Donald Trump stands behind her on stage at a rally at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Mendon on Saturday

Congresswoman calls removal of abortion rights a ‘victory for white life’

Russia Ukraine War

Russia pushes to block second city in eastern Ukraine

President Joe Biden waves to the media as he walks to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland

Biden arrives in Europe ahead of G7 and Nato summits

Chicago police at the scene where a five-month-old girl was shot and killed in the South Shore neighbourhood of Chicago

Five-month-old girl shot dead in car in Chicago

Tourists fill plastic bottles with water from a public fountain at the Sforzesco Castle in Milan, Italy

Milan to turn off fountains as drought hits Italy

A photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

Seven accusers write to Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentencing judge

Vitali Klitschko

European mayors duped into calls with impostor posing as Kyiv’s Vitali Klitschko

People lay flowers at the scene of a shooting in central Oslo, Norway

Gunman kills two during Oslo Pride festival

Activists from Oxfam wear giant heads depicting G7 leaders during a demonstration in Munich, Germany

Protesters gather as G7 leaders set to arrive in Germany

The Brit fell from the Devil's Pass in northern Spain

Brit, 25, falls to his death climbing over Spain's notorious 'Devil's Pass'