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Swede wrongly convicted of murder to get record compensation after 13 years of jail

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Swede wrongly convicted of murder to get record compensation after 13 years of jail
Kaj Linna speaking to press after his acquittal. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
16:57 CET+01:00
A Swede who was jailed for 13 years for a murder of which he was later acquitted will now receive a record amount of compensation, according to reports in Swedish media.

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 always denied having committed the murder and at the end of last year, after new evidence was presented in a Swedish crime podcast based on global phenomenon 'Serial', he was granted a retrial.

In June this year, the court formally cleared Linna of all charges, ruling the evidence against him "insufficient".

Now he is set to receive compensation for loss of work income as well as further compensation for wrongful detention, the amount of which is likely to set a record.

Linna will receive an initial payment of 5.5 million kronor, equivalent to approximately $655,000, Dagens Nyheter reported, but the total figure will be much higher.

"It's nice to not have to live on borrowed money and to be able to pay back what I have borrowed from people. But it is not an adequate substitute," Linna told the Swedish daily. 

He and his lawyer, Thomas Magnusson, have previously estimated that the figure could reach 20-25 million kronor once a final agreement is made.

"In any event, it will be the largest [amount of compensation] ever," Magnusson told the TT newswire, but declined to say how much his client was asking for. "Joy Rahman (who was convicted of murder and received 10.2 million kronor in damages in 2004) spent eight years in prison, Kaj Linna has spent thirteen. It is above all the long detention that is crucial here."

The case

Linna's 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 whom 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. That man became the main witness at the trial and said Linna had told him of plans to rob the brothers.

Linna's fight for a retrial has been a long-running feature in Swedish media, with newspaper DN's reporter Stefan Lisinski one of those who had pointed out several errors and gaps in the main witness' story. The Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to retry the case last year after the same witness, speaking to Swedish crime podcast Spår, changed the details of the account he gave to the police. The witness had also offered new information in a documentary about the case by Swedish filmmaker Mårten Barkvall.

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