Kaj Linna was sentenced to life in jail over a brutal combined robbery and murder in Kalamark in the far north of Sweden in 2004, despite a lack of forensic evidence or an eye witness linking him to the scene.
He pleaded not guilty and has been trying ever since to get his case tried again – a request granted by the Supreme Court of Sweden, the country's top-tier criminal court, on Thursday.
“This is very nice. But actually, I have a lump in my throat and one in my stomach. At the same time it is a little sad,” 54-year-old Linna's lawyer, Thomas Magnusson, told the TT newswire.
The case dates back to April 2004, when two brothers were attacked on a farm some 20 kilometres from Piteå. One of the brothers was killed; the other was assaulted but survived. The latter, who was disabled because of a stroke, was found by social services two days later and said he had recognized the voice of a man who had previously done business with the brothers and who they perceived as threatening.
The man, who had an alibi, instead mentioned Linna as a potential suspect and pointed police in the direction of another man who had more information, reports the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. That man became the main witness at the trial and said Linna had told him of plans to rob the brothers.
The Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to try Linna's case again after the witness, speaking to Swedish media, recently took back or changed the details of the account he gave to the police.
“The witness' information was crucial to the conviction. The uncertainty which has now arisen with regard to the confidence in and reliability of his information affects the probative value of his statement,” notes the court in a ruling seen by The Local.
“It is strange that the court believed this crown witness so strongly. There were plenty of claims in his story about how he had tried to stop the murder that were easy to check and were not true,” Stefan Lisinski, a reporter at Dagens Nyheter who has been investigating the case, told public broadcaster SVT.