The case of the murder of 32-year-old Linda Chen has taken almost eight months to piece together. The trial of her 34-year-old fiancé Mats Alm, who has been in custody for more than five months, finally opened in Falun district court on Monday.
Alm is charged with murder, with alternative charges of manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. The prosecutor is also seeking to have Alm prosecuted for disturbing the peace of the dead.
Linda Chen was reported missing on August 2nd 2009, a week before she was due to be married to Mats Alm.
Alm appealed to the tabloid press and to TV3’s Efterlyst crime watch programme for help in finding his missing fiancée.
His appearance on the show in September prompted renowned Swedish criminology professor, Leif G W Persson, to claim “an innocent person has no interest in being on television and crying.” Persson’s comment led to Alm’s inclusion among the possible suspects in the case.
A few days after his appearance on the television show, Alm disappeared from his workplace in Borlänge in central Sweden and remained missing for three days, including a scheduled appointment with investigators.
On September 18th, the same day that Alm was officially reported missing, he was found near woodland with burns injuries and claiming to have found the dead Linda Chen.
On September 22nd Alm was remanded into custody on suspicion of the murder of his fiancée after having undergone a psychological examination.
Alm denied the charges, and in police interviews he has claimed that he was kidnapped by unknown men who had drugged him and kept him locked in the boot of a car.
A physical examination showed no traces of Alm having been drugged.
Alm has furthermore claimed that after three days the mysterious men released him in woodland and he awoke near the body of his deceased fiancée.
Witnesses have testified that Alm was spotted in Borlänge during the period when he claims to have been kidnapped. Police have also uncovered film evidence of Alm which places him in Stockholm on September 16th.
Police suspect that Alm spent some of his time in Stockholm at the city library where investigators claim he spent time researching media coverage of the Chen case as well as figuring out transport alternatives back to Bollnäs – the town near which he later claimed to have found her body.
Prosecutors suspect that Alm returned to the place where he had buried his fiancée in order to burn the body and destroy evidence.
Mats Alm’s lawyer, Peter Althin, is critical of the charges levelled against his client arguing that the prosecutor has not been able to establish where Linda Chen was killed.