Truck crash that killed cartoonist who drew Muhammad could be due to a flat tire on his bulletproof car, police say
- Lars Vilks died on Sunday when a car driven by his police guards crashed into a truck in Sweden.
- Police said a tire on the vehicle may have burst, although it was believed to be puncture-proof.
- Vilks received protection in 2007 after receiving death threats for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
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Police investigating the accident that killed the Swedish artist famous for drawing the Prophet Muhammad like a dog said a flat tire could be to blame.
Larks Vilks, 75, was killed at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday when his police escort vehicle collided head-on with a truck near Markaryd in southern Sweden. His two police chaperones also died.
Vilks had been living under police protection since 2007 after death threats following the publication of his incendiary cartoon.
In the Islamic faith, representations of Muhammad are considered offensive and cartoons showing him have already provoked violent reactions.
Swedish police are still investigating the cause of the crash and said on Sunday they had no evidence to suggest the collision was intentional.
Stefan Sintéus, head of the police investigation unit in southern Sweden, said on Monday that the accident could have been caused by a burst of a tire from the police car, when they were supposed to be indestructible, SVT News reported.
“If there has been any kind of rash, that’s something we need to look at and that’s what the forensic analysis should show,” he said.
The car carrying Vilks collided with the truck after crashing into the fence in the middle of the highway, he said.
“A bulletproof vehicle weighs around 4.5 tonnes and can gain a lot of momentum. That should explain how it could pass through the wire grid,” Sintéus said.
The police car was driving at high speed shortly before the accident, Swedish newspaper Expressen reported, and caught fire after impact.
Vilks has lived a fairly public life in Sweden since he first came into the limelight in 2007, often appearing at events to defend free speech.
At the time of his cartoon, Al Qaeda put a bounty of $ 100,000 on Vilks’ head and his house was set on fire.
But he also had a number of near misses.