On the xx Ian H. Lundin and Alexander Schneiter, the Chairman and former CEO of Lundin Energy, were formally indicted by the The Stockholm District Court for aiding and abetting international crimes in Sudan (now South Sudan) between 1997-2003. As noted in the indictment statement, they will be prosecuted for the following:
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The crimes will be prosecuted on the basis of universal jurisdiction as provided for in Chapter 2, Section 3 (6) of the Swedish Penal Code. Universal jurisdiction allows states or international organisations to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed, and regardless of the accused’s nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting entity. Crimes prosecuted under universal jurisdiction are considered crimes against all, too serious to abide by jurisdictional limits
If found guilty, the suspects can face up to life imprisonment. In addition, the Prosecution Authority has announced that it will seek a corporate fine of 3 MSEK from Lundin Energy itself, as well as forfeiture of all economic benefits from a criminal enterprise, in the amount of 3,282 MSEK.
From 1983 to 2005, Sudan was torn apart by a civil war between the Government of Sudan and a variety of armed forces, mostly in the southern part of the country. During this war, in 1997, the members of a consortium led by the Swedish oil company Lundin Energy signed a contract with the Government for the exploration and production of oil. This was to be done on the fault line of Sudan’s war zone in the oil concession area called Block 5A. The area was at that time not under full Government control. Lundin was the lead partner and operator of the Consortium. The prospect of oil production gave the – up to then – relatively quiet area a strategic significance and it became a focal point of the civil war. Subsequently, a vicious war broke out for control over the oil fields in Block 5A between the Government and SPLA-supported armed groups. As a result, heinous crimes were committed against the civilian population in its concession area: an estimated 160,000 people were forcibly displaced, their houses and livelihood stolen or destroyed. At least 12,000 died. Young men were forcibly recruited, young women raped and enslaved.
The criminal investigation was opened in 2010, following the publications of the report Unpaid Debt that PAX wrote for ECOS. In 2016 Ian H. Lundin and Alex Schneiter were formally named as suspects in the case and in 2018 the Swedish Prosecution Authority received approval from the Swedish Government to bring charges against the suspects.
In 2019, the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden denied an appeal by Lundin Energy which demanded the Court overrule the October 2018 decision by the Swedish Government to allow the prosecution to proceed. Lundin argued that the two Government ministers involved in making the decision to proceed had not been in an independent, unbiased position.
On 29 July 2021, after several attempts by Ian H. Lundin and Alex Schneiter to end the investigations against them, the Supreme Court did not grant the company’s leave to appeal. They ruled that there were no legal grounds to end the war crimes investigation.
On the xx they were formally indicted by the Stockholm District Court.
The trial is set to start xx
The defendants have continuously denied allegation. They have expressed their stance in an open letters where they state: “The suspicions are based on a biased and wrongful perception of criminal liability for conducting legitimate business activities”. They also claim that when the conflict erupted “the Company did everything in its power to promote peace through peaceful means”.
The trial is set to become one of the most complex trials in Swedish history. It carries incredible importance when it comes to furthering accountability for corporate actors with operations that are directly linked to international atrocity crimes and other human rights violations.