In a preliminary ruling released on Friday, Falun district court found Alm not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of Chen. He will however be convicted of disturbing the peace of the dead after the court found that he had moved her dead body to a woodland area in Bertilsbo Norra outside Leksand in central Sweden.
According to earlier media reports, the insurance policies were taken out shortly before Chen’s death and were thought by police investigators to represent a possible motive for her murder.
But the fact that Alm will not be convicted of killing Chen means there are no formal impediments preventing him from cashing in on the couple’s joint life insurance policy, as well as a private policy Chen held with insurance firm Folksam.
“Anyone who deliberately kills somebody by committing a crime will not be able to claim compensation,” said Michael Olsson, personal injury manager at Folksam, who specified murder and manslaughter as crimes that would rule out payment.
“But when it comes to disturbing the peace of the dead there are no obstacles, either under the terms of insurance or the law, that prevent compensation from a life insurance policy.”
The couple’s joint insurance policy from Lärarförsäkringar – an insurance firm owned by Sweden’s two largest teachers unions – is worth a total of 1.02 million kronor.
Alm is to remain in custody until the court announces its formal verdict later this summer in a case that has generated huge media interest. The outcome of a court-mandated psychiatric evaluation will determine whether the 35-year-old can be sentenced to imprisonment.
Prosecutor Niclas Eltenius said he was not entirely surprised by the district court’s decision.
“The position we now find ourselves in was a possible scenario and is one that we can live with for now. I would have been surprised if the man had been released. Now we’ll await the verdict before deciding whether to appeal,” he said.
The complicated nature of the case meant that it took almost eight months to piece together before the trial against Alm finally opened in late March.
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 claimed that he had been 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 further claimed that the mysterious men released him in woodland after three days and he awoke near the body of his deceased fiancée.
Witnesses testified that Alm was spotted in Borlänge during the period when he claims to have been kidnapped. Police also uncovered film evidence of Alm which places him in Stockholm on September 16th.
Police suspected that Alm spent some of his time in Stockholm at the city library where investigators claimed he spent time researching media coverage of the Chen case as well as figuring out transport alternatives to Bollnäs, a town in north central Sweden near where the body was later found.