While the court of public opinion has long played a role in the justice system, recent developments have seen the public going far beyond simply offering its thoughts. Some have started participating actively and investigating crimes. We’ve seen this phenomenon inspired by the hugely popular Netflix documentary series Making A Murderer and the podcast Serial. And now another podcast in Sweden inspired by Serial has resulted in a man’s conviction for murder being overturned.
13 years ago, Kaj Linna was sentenced to life in prison for robbing two brothers, murdering one of them in the process. His conviction was largely based on the testimony of one man — a man whom the surviving brother happened to suspect as his attacker. That man somehow managed to throw off suspicion by pointing the finger at Linna instead, resulting in Linna’s conviction despite a total lack of forensic evidence. Spår hosts Anton Berg and Martin Johnson spent the podcast’s first season taking a closer look at the accusations and picking apart the case.
Following an interview on the show where the man (still publicly unnamed due to Swedish law) changed his testimony and added details, the Swedish Supreme court freed Linna, overturning his conviction and ordering a new trial. But instead of retrying him, the legal system has now formally cleared Linna of all charges.
“Spår hosts Anton and Martin should be amazingly proud that their series has helped bring about justice for Kaj Linna and that he can now walk free, though the tragedy of the last 13 years can never be undone,” said Karl Rosander, a producer behind Spår and its podcast network. “This result is a landmark moment for podcasts as a cultural phenomenon. It shows that not only can podcasts inform and entertain, but they can also form investigations that shape real-life events.”
As for Linna, he’s likely to receive what some experts suspect could be the largest wrongful conviction settlement in the history of the country. The previous amount was 10.2 million kronor, which amounts to 1.16 million US dollars. That’s along with becoming the first person to be freed from prison and cleared because of a podcast. He may not be the last: “Spår‘s inspiration Serial has earned its first season subject Adnan Syed a new trial. The case behind Making A Murderer continues to develop as convicted murderer Steven Avery’s lawyer has just filed a 1200 page brief demanding a new trial of his own.
(Via The Local)