The Supreme Court of Sweden confirmed on 10 November, 2022, that Sweden can prosecute Lundin’s former CEO Alex Schneiter. The decision ensures that Sweden continues to honour the principle of universal jurisdiction, that prevents those who committed serious crimes from finding a safe haven in third countries. With its decision, the Court confirms Sweden’s commitment to making sure that those responsible for the worst international crimes do not go unpunished.
“It is absolutely the right decision and a decision of fundamental importance not only for this case but also in general because it clarifies the legal situation in a very clear way. For the plaintiffs, it is important that it is made clear that international law does not stand in the way, sufficient connection to Sweden for international justice pertains to both defendants” says Percy Bratt one of two legal counsels to the victims of the crimes committed in Lundin’s oil concession area in Sudan 1997-2003.
Alex Schneiter was indicted together with Ian Lundin for aiding and abetting war crimes in South Sudan in November 2021. The same month, Alex Schneiter made a request to the District Court. Schneiter and his lawyers argued that the Swedish Courts do not have jurisdiction over him as there is no support in international law that universal jurisdiction can be applied over crimes committed in a non-international armed conflict or if the accused is not voluntarily present in the territory of the State where he or she is indicted.
Alex Schneiter was Lundin’s head of production during the company’s operations in Sudan. These activities ran from February 1997 to May 2003 and form the focus of the Prosecutor’s indictment of Ian Lundin, Alex Schneiter and Lundin Energy. Lundin Energy recently changed its name to Orrön Energy.
After both the District Court and Svea Court of Appeal denied his request, Schneiter appealed the decision to the Swedish Supreme Court who in turn referred the question to the Prosecutor General of Sweden, Petra Lundh. She concluded that the legal framework is clear and that the Swedish courts have jurisdiction to try Alex Schneiter. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court of Sweden decided to take up the question itself in order to clarify the matter.
Today, they have come out with a decision, stating: “The indictment concerns acts that Alexander Schneiter is alleged to have committed in its role as representative of companies in a Swedish group, alone or together and in agreement with a Swedish citizen. The connection to Sweden is considered sufficient for there to be a legitimate Swedish interest in the administration of justice.” View the court decision:
Sweden’s ability to prosecute war criminals is standing firm and the trial against Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin will proceed.
Although this decision is welcomed by the victims of the alleged crimes, this procedure has negatively affected them. Schneiter’s claim has delayed the criminal proceedings with 8 months, diminishing the integrity of the trial and infringing on the victims’ right to prompt justice and redress.
The planning of the trial resumed but no date has been set yet.