Time to dust off your conspiracy theories


When I started studying Swedish, my web searches happened to alight upon Francis Strand's blog thanks to its wonderful title, "How to learn Swedish in 1000 difficult lessons", and I've been following his musings on life on Stockholm ever since.

Wednesday morning, an apartment just a block away from his own exploded under curious circumstances. According to the initial report,

A man is missing after the powerful explosion which blew out an entire apartment on Surbrunnsgatan in Stockholm early Wednesday morning. ...

The apartment's resident was not found among the evacuatees. ... Police bomb-sniffing dogs searched through the apartment without any indication of explosives. The police's main theory, therefore, is that a gas leak caused the explosion.

Later that day, that theory fell under suspicion, at least by the conspiracy-minded press:

"Nothing points to gas explosion."

An expert at the energy company Fortum doubts that the violent explosion was caused by gas.

"There are things which are inconsistent with a gas explosion. First of all, the explosion should have caused a fire if it had to do with a gas flow. If it is still a question of a gas accident, it is unique in its scope. ... A huge amount of gas is required for so powerful a blast. The residence must have been filled to the gills. We have no documented instance of this type of explosion ever being caused by accident."

Even more interesting is that the apartment's resident had been released by the police just last Friday:

The missing man is suspected of book theft.

The owner of the Surbrunnsgatan apartment which exploded is the man who is suspected of theft in the millions [of Swedish Kronor] from the Royal Library. The man was released from custody last Friday.

The 48-year-old had been held in custody for approximately one month. On Thursday, police held a so-called conclusion hearing with the man. Prosecutor Stefan Lind determined later that there was no reason to continue holding the 48-year-old who was released on Friday. "But the investigation into him continues," says Stefan Lind.

The 48-year-old allegedly stole millions of Kronor worth of rarities [rare books, presumably] from the library where he was employed. The man has to some degree admitted to the crimes.

Francis's current houseguest thinks the man was killed by the people he sold the books to. I myself don't know what to think. It's just plain curious.

The Swedish word for the day is själ. It means soul. [Updated 9am: Got the word wrong! I had written skäl instead of själ. That'll teach me to flatter by imitation. Only Francis Strand can do it right.]

Comments (15)
  1. No, "själ" means soul. "skäl" means "reason, cause, ground(s), motive, argument", according to lexin: http://lexikon.nada.kth.se/swe-eng.shtml

  2. Anders says:

    Actually, skäl means reason (the noun, not the verb) or motivation.

    Själ – pronounced the same way – is soul.

  3. asdf says:

    Sounds almost like Fight Club

  4. Cooney says:

    My first thought. I had the whole VR sequence where Ed’s apartment explodes.

  5. Miles Archer says:

    If the don’t find evidence of a body, then he may have blew up his apartment himself to fake his death. Did they happen to say what time the explosion took place?

  6. Raymond Chen says:

    Rats, fake out by homophones.

  7. Marcus says:

    I was just about to correct you, but Anders and Christoffer beat me to it. By several hours.

  8. Jim Howard says:

    Funny I went to your page right after reading this article (via a link from Andrew Sullivan’s blog):

    http://www.chillicothegazette.com/news/stories/20041207/localnews/1708741.html

    A guy trying to commit sucicide with natural gas blows up his house, but survives.

  9. Francis S. says:

    Don’t let me fool you, I have to be corrected a lot. My Swedish is still pretty lame, all things considered.

    And as of this morning, they still haven’t found a body yet. Although what’s left of the apartment has now been declared a "crime scene," according to Expressen.

    (Thanks for linking to me, I think I’ve gotten as many hits from you linking to me as when I was last nominated for a <a href="http://2004.bloggies.com/">Bloggie</a&gt;!)

  10. Matt says:

    More evidence that European libraries and gas companies are run by the mafia? Landlords may very well be implicated as well. They were most likely strongarming the poor victim to steal the "rarities" for them.

  11. Tom says:

    When I was in Sweden, I was at a bus stop in Sundbyberg a rabidly aggressive drunk walked up and asked me for a cigarette. I asked him if he spoke English, and he decided to pick on someone else. He got in a fairly heated (and to me incomprehensible) argument with a woman until one of the guys at the bus stop intervened. They pushed each other a bit and the drunk decided to back off, and wandered off up the street.

    Someone must have called the police, because a police car drove past us, in the direction of the drunk, so I went to see what was happening. They’d arrested the drunk put him in the police car. I asked them what was going on, and they said he was Christer Pettersson, "he was the guy that killed Olaf Palme, but we couldn’t prove it".

    At the time, it struck me as being an odd thing for a policeman to say, but the more you read about Christer Petterson, the more I think it was probably true.

    /my best Swedish sociopath story

  12. Christer Pettersson died a couple of months ago from the brain injuries caused by a fall knocking his head on the floor. Apparently he died "under mysterious circumstances" after being arrested and later released.

    About the police man saying "he was the guy that killed Olaf Palme, but we couldn’t prove it" (actually, its "Olof", not "Olaf") – I’d say that could be grounds for firing him. The police man, I mean.

  13. Fredrik says:

    Apparently, they have now found the body of the missing man in the appartment so atleast that part of the mystery is solved:

    http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1298&a=354238&previousRenderType=6

  14. Moi says:

    No, no, Matt. The libraries and gas companies are secretly run by the Boy Sprouts, who are themselves controlled by Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow. The Mafia does not exist.

  15. Scot Boyd says:

    Maybe he was cooking drugs. Meth labs blow up from sparking accumulated gasses, but there’d be no natural gas leak.

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