The public prosecutor, Henrik Attorps, has formally indicted two representatives of Lundin Energy AB for complicity in grave war crimes in Sudan from 1999 to 2003. Lundin’s Chairman Ian H. Lundin and Director Alex Schneiter will be tried by the Stockholm District court. The prosecutor argues that the accused have aided and abetted grave war crimes committed by the then Sudanese regime with the purpose of securing the company’s oil operations in southern Sudan.
“We believe that the investigation proves that the military and allied militia systematically attacked civilians or at least carried out indiscriminate attacks. For example, they bombed airplanes from transport planes, shelled civilians from combat helicopters, abducted and looted civilians, and burned entire villages and crops so that people had nothing to live on. The result was that many civilians were killed, injured and expelled from Block 5A”, says the head of the investigation, Henrik Attorps.
The two representatives of Lundin Energy are indicted due to their executive roles at the Swedish oil company Lundin Oil (from 2001-2003 under the name Lundin Petroleum) that had an oil exploration agreement with the Sudan Government when a civil war ravaged the country.
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.
The criminal investigation was opened in June 2010, following the publication of the Unpaid Debt report that the Dutch peace organisation PAX wrote for ECOS. In November 2016, Ian H. Lundin and Alex Schneiter were formally named as suspects in the case and in October 2018 the Swedish Prosecution Authority received approval from the Swedish Government to bring charges.
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 1,4 Billion SEK. The suspects and Lundin Energy have consistently denied all allegations. The trial is likely to start in the beginning of 2022.
Henrik Attorps states:
“It is important that these serious crimes are not forgotten. War crimes are one of the most serious crimes that Sweden has an international obligation to investigate and prosecute. A large number of civilians were affected by the crimes of the Sudanese regime, crimes which we believe the defendants aided and abetted. Many of the civilians who survived were forced to flee their homes to never return and still have no knowledge of what happened to their relatives and friends from whom they were separated.”
This news is a blow to Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter who have made every attempt to stop the case from reaching trial stage but it is welcomed by the survivors in South Sudan who have waited over 20 years for justice.
This is set to become one of the most complex trials in Swedish history and one that carries major 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.