This True-Crime Podcast Helped Exonerate a Man Imprisoned for 13 Years

Spar followed the case since 2015 and uncovered new evidence

Popular Swedish true crime podcast Spår was crucial in freeing a wrongfully convicted man after 13 years in prison.
Acast

A Swedish man convicted of murder and robbery and in prison for 13 years was freed after a retrial that was partly the result of a popular podcast. Kaj Linna was released after the podcast Spar uncovered evidence that discredited a key witness whose testimony led to his conviction.

Linna’s was longest sentence followed by a retrial in Swedish legal history, and his story marks the first time a podcast and investigation has gotten someone out of prison, according to the BBC.

“This [verdict] shows that podcasting as a cultural medium has both the investigative and testimonial power to affect the outcome of a legal case,” said Karl Rosander, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Acast, the global podcasting and audio on-demand platform that hosts Spar.

Linna was sentenced to life in prison in 2004, when a man was murdered and his brother seriously injured on a farm in the far north of Sweden.

Linna’s case was a big news story in Sweden at the time of his conviction in Sweden, but it wasn’t until Spar began examining his push for a retrial in 2015 that the prospect seemed possible. There was a lack of forensic evidence and no eyewitnesses placing Linna at the scene in the initial investigation. Then, in one episode of the show, hosts Anton Berg and Martin Johnson interviewed a witness from Linna’s first trial. In that interview, the witness disclosed information that brought his original testimony into question.

A clip from the podcast was used as evidence during Linna’s retrial.

“My time in jail was completely wasted, worthless,” Linna said Thursday after his release.

Since the phenomenon of Serial, followed by other true-crime podcasts like My Favorite Murder, which started in early 2016, the genre continues to gain new fans. Spar has seen a 50 percent growth in listenership in the past seven days and a 337 percent increase in the past 30 days.

“They are particularly appealing because they turn the listener into the armchair sleuth,” said Rosander, who was also an executive producer on Spar.

When journalists and producers investigate these stories, they have a huge responsibility to not only try to uncover the truth, but to also report what they find fairly and objectively,” Rosander added. “The true-crime medium works and deserves its growing popularity.”