Monday’s decision comes as the court prepares to hand down a final verdict in the case that has gripped the nation.

On the final day of the trial, the prosecution demanded a life sentence for Mijailo Mijailovic, a Swede of Serbian origin, who has confessed to repeatedly stabbing Lindh in a Stockholm department store four months ago.

But while Chief Judge Goeran Nilsson said that Mijailovic had indeed meant to take Lindh's life when he brutally attacked her, he also ruled that a psychiatric evaluation would have to show whether Mijailovic was in possession of his mental faculties, a precondition for a murder verdict.

"It is clear that Mijailo Mijailovic committed the crime of which he is accused," said Nilsson. "The court orders a psychiatric examination of Mijailo Mijailovic."

The court will reconvene in four to five weeks to pronounce its verdict based on the results of the examination, and the evidence presented in Mijailovic's trial which wound up on Monday after three days of deliberations.

Legal experts said that if the psychiatric evaluation shows that Mijailovic was mentally unstable at the time of the attack, the court could rule that he should be found guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter.

"They found him guilty of having intended to kill Anna Lindh, but that doesn't mean that he'll be found guilty of murder," Christian Diesen, a law professor at Stockholm University, told AFP.

Lindh was stabbed to death out-
side a shopping centre

Not guilty plea

Mijailovic, who has a history of psychiatric problems, has denied intending to kill her. During testimony last week, Mijailovic said he was sleep-deprived and under heavy medication at the time of the attack.

Lindh, who was shopping without a bodyguard, received several stab wounds in her stomach, chest and arms, and her death caused great shock in a nation that expected her to one day lead Sweden as prime minister.

In his final plea, Mijailovic's defence lawyer asked for him to be set free, arguing that there was no proof that he meant to take Lindh's life.

"I call on the court to release him," lawyer Peter Althin said.

Chief prosecutor Agneta Blidberg said she stood by the murder charge and recommended that the court hand down a "guilty" verdict and send Mijailovic to prison for life, the maximum penalty in Sweden, which usually translates into about 15 years in jail.

Mijailovic allegedly wore this
jacket the day of the murder

'Calm but distant'

Mijailovic appeared relaxed but distant as he fled from the scene of the crime in a taxi, taxi driver Norretin Kanat told the court.

"He was calm," Kanat said of Mijailovic, who fled the crime scene on foot before hailing his cab to take him away from the city centre to the suburb where he lived.

During the 40-minute taxi ride, during which Mijailovic sat in the front passenger seat, the cabbie got the "impression was that he was a little tired, a little slow, a little shy," but that he was not completely absent.

"He was a good listener, looking me in the eyes," he said.

Mijailovic seemed withdrawn and monosyllabic, but "it didn't seem to me at all that he was stressed," Kanat said.

At one point the chat turned to women, and Mijailovic told the driver that he found it difficult to meet any, "that he had not met a woman since 1999," the cabbie said.

Once he dropped Mijajilovic off, the taxi driver said he thought no more of the trip until, much later, it dawned on him who the man in his cab really was.

Following the testimony, prosecutor Blidberg said she had no doubt that this portrait did not fit that of a mentally deranged man who was out of control.

"He sits in the taxi and discusses how to get girls," she observed. "He's taciturn, but that seems to be his personality, not confusion," she added.