The prosecutor in the Lundin case has provided additional information about the alleged war crimes in Sudan 1999-2003. As requested by the court Henrik Attorps, the public Prosecutor, included one document setting out the defendants’ role within the company and how these contributed to the war crimes and one document which specifies the crimes. The prosecutor also explained that it is not possible to present a complete account of the time, place and manner of every single attack which took place during the time Lundin’s executives are accused of aiding and abetting war crimes.
In another development, the Court has decided that the pre-trial hearing of Gerhart Baum will be held on 12 December. Mr Baum, a former German Interior Minister, served as Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Sudan between 2001 and 2003.
On 9 November 2022, the Stockholm District Court ordered the Prosecutor to specify the description of crimes in the indictment that was issued on 11 November 2021, rewarding the complaint by Ian Lundin and Lundin/Orrön Energy that it did not allow for an adequate preparation of their defence. In their decision the court stated:
“The case is extensive and complicated. There is therefore a need for preparatory measures so that the trial can be carried out in an expedient manner.”
The prosecutor submitted two court documents before the set deadline of 30th of November. The first specifies Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter’s positions within the company and how these contributed to the war crimes. “Ian Lundin and Alexandre Schneiter had through their respective roles in practice decisive influence over Sudan Ltd’s operations in Block 5A” it concludes. The second specifies the crimes. However, it does not provide the time and place for each crime, as the defence had requested.
Instead, the prosecutor explains that the description of the crimes specifies decisions by the defendants and how they were communicated to representatives of the Sudanese regime, i.e. the regime that administered the criminal warfare tactics. People with the Sudanese regime, with influence over the warfare were being aided and abetted, not the individuals within the military and militia who actually committed the crimes in the field. According to the prosecutor, the description of crimes therefore does not need to specify the attacks by lower-level military and militiamen as they were carried out as part of a larger criminal warfare-tactic.
The Response to the Court’s Decision
”The unlawful warfare tactics resulted in an unknown number of attacks on an unknown number of civilians and their property in and near Block 5A. It is not possible to present a complete account of the time, place and manner of every single attack in which the warfare tactic was applied”, the prosecutor stated.
It came as a surprise that the District court accepted Ian Lundin’s request for specification as the prosecutor already had provided more information than what is generally required in cases of this nature. More information is always expected to come forward during the court proceedings which the defence will have ample opportunity to challenge. In its response to Court, the prosecutor holds its ground convincingly.
This defence’s claim that the description of crimes was insufficiently specific added yet another burden to the prosecutor and the courts who have been met with countless and mostly meritless requests from the defendants. However, their efforts to delay the trial proceedings now seems to have come to an end. The planning of the trial has started, even though we do not yet have a trial date. At the planning meeting held on the 20th of October, the prosecutor stated that they can begin hearings the the 11th of April, 2023 while the defence lawyers for Lundin, Schneiter and Lundin/Orrön Energy asked the court that hearings begin after 5 September 2023. This request was echoed by the defence in a court document filed on the 2nd of December.
The pre-trial hearing of Gerhart Baum will take place on the 12th of December in the Stockholm District court. He served as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights from 2001 to 2003 and repeatedly reported how the oil-exploration exacerbated the conflict. In an oral statement to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2001 he said:
“During my visit I gathered further evidence that oil exploitation leads to an exacerbation of the conflict with serious consequences for the civilians. More specifically, I received information whereby the Government is resorting to forced evictions of the local population and destruction of villages to depopulate areas and allow for oil operations to proceed unimpeded.”
Like another expert witness Diane de Guzman earlier this year, who sadly passed away on November 18th, Gerhart Baum will be heard before the trial starts because of his precarious health.