Swedish Mohammad cartoonist Lars Vilks dies in car crash

Lars VilksPhoto: Bjorn Lindgren / TT via AP
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The controversial 75-year-old artist Lars Vilks died in a traffic accident outside Markaryd in Småland on Sunday. Two policemen in the car also lost their lives on the spot.

There is no indication that the Swedish artist was assassinated, but the police still want to rule this out through investigation.

“There is nothing to indicate that this is the case (i.e., that an assassination took place), but we still want to be able to reject that notion through the investigation,” Stefan Sintéus, head of the regional investigation unit, stated at a press conference on Monday.

According to witnesses, the civilian police car was allegedly driving at very high speed when it drove into the opposite lane and collided with a lorry. A violent fire broke out after the accident. 

The truck driver was transported to the hospital with unknown injuries but alive. The police have questioned the driver at the hospital. Police do not currently suspect either the truck driver or the two police officers of deliberately causing the accident.

“Very unusual accident”

Vilks was on his way home from Stockholm when the accident happened.

The police do not yet know the reason why the police car, which weighed 4.5 tonnes, got into the wrong lane. 

The emergency services stated that it was difficult for a vehicle to pass into the other lane on that particular stretch of the road, where the lanes are divided by barriers. 

Such accidents are “very, very unusual,” the press manager for the Swedish Transport Administration stated.

Heavy car and high speed

The car’s high speed combined with the weight may be the reason why the car drove through the barriers, according to Sintéus.

Police have launched an investigation to investigate the possibilities of negligent homicide.

“I was contacted by the police yesterday and took over the main investigation on Sunday night. The routine investigative steps are underway,” prosecutor Kajsa Sundgren in the Malmö police told the newspaper Aftonbladet.

“Traumatic”

Forensic scientists and other crews worked at the accident site Sunday night and Monday morning. Sintéus says that very extensive work is still going on at the site.

“It is traumatic for the technicians on site, and we will provide crisis support to our colleagues who worked there yesterday and last night,” he added.

The incident has attracted attention both in Sweden and the Nordic countries. Sintéus says that condolences have flowed in from all over the country.

Muhammad drawings

The two policemen had worked full-time to protect Vilks for several years. He lived with a police guard after he drew the Prophet Muhammad in 2007. In the drawing, Vilks placed the Prophet’s head on a dog.

The drawing was met with strong reactions and was rejected at several exhibitions, including the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. However, it was printed in the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda.

Vilks received death threats after the drawing was published, and among other things, al-Qaeda promised a reward of USD 100,000 to the person who killed him.

In 2015, Vilks was subjected to a terrorist attack in Copenhagen while he was participating in a debate meeting on art, blasphemy, and freedom of expression. 

Vilks escaped unharmed from the attack, but the Danish documentary filmmaker Finn Nørgaard was shot and killed, and three policemen were injured.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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