The first witness testifies in Court about Lundin’s devastating presence in South Sudan
Prosecutor Henrik Attorps urged the court to proceed with the trial against the Lundin defendants after a recent request by Alex Schneiter halted the proceedings. Further delays jeopardize the integrity of the trial as key witnesses may eventually not be able to testify in Court due to illness and old age. This has become apparent as an expert witness has already been heard outside of the main proceedings because of poor health.
In November 2021, Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter were formally indicted for aiding and abetting war crimes after a decade long investigation. In the indictment it was stated that the parties should meet and plan for the hearing in the near future. However, this has yet to happen. Prosecutor Henrik Attorps is now urging that the trial should not be further delayed.
What is halting the process is Alex Schneiter’s latest request to dismiss the indictment against him. Attorps states: “Both the District Court and the Court of Appeal have rejected Schneiter’s request. It is unclear when a ruling from the Supreme Court can be expected. Even if the Supreme Court were to uphold Schneiter’s action, the indictment against Ian Lundin and the action against Lundin Energy AB remains”.
He also highlights that the case is “extremely extensive” and that there is therefore a need for proper planning, with consultation of all the parties in order to avoid that the case is delayed even further.
Several court witnesses are getting old and suffer from deteriorating health and will at some point no longer be able to testify in court.
The fact that the defence is delaying the proceedings time and time again after having claimed that their rights to a fair trial within a reasonable time had been infringed supports earlier observations that they were abusing human rights law for their own benefit. Schneiter’s appeal to the Supreme Court confirms the impression that the suspects were disingenuous when claiming that the delays violated their human rights, as they themselves try every possible measure to delay justice. One must not forget the victims in this case. Access to justice and prompt redress are basic human rights that all victims of crimes are entitled to. This is a right that they are currently being denied.
First witness interviewed
In the beginning of February 2022, Prosecutor Henrik Attorps requested that a witness be questioned urgently outside of the main trial proceedings due to serious illness. The witness was interviewed on 23-25 February 2022 in Stockholm District Court via a remote connection.
The witness was present in Lundin’s area of operation during the time the war crimes were committed and interviewed many people. In her police interview, she testified that the conflict escalated because of the activities of Lundin Oil, and that the violence spread to formerly peaceful areas. She was consistently told that the attacks and forced displacement happened because the Government wanted “the people off the land”. The escalation of violence was related to the observation that, contrary to the usual way the war was fought, the Government no longer limited itself to temporarily chase people off the land, but took deliberate measures to make sure that they would not return.
The witness also stated that Lundins’ community development and humanitarian assistance did not do much good. On the contrary, she was told that Lundin’s water supplies were used as a weapon against the local population, as they were cut off when communities requested more benefits or supported factions that opposed the Government. Reportedly, the road that Lundin built was largely inaccessible to the local population due to checkpoints and extorsion practices by the military that had set up barracks every five to ten kilometers, and Lundin’s health clinic was seldom open and ill supplied.