The Defence Fail to Use Their Days in Court  – Updates from the Court

The defence lawyers used only 29 out of the 47 days in court they had requested for their presentation of facts. This undercuts their argument that they had no time to properly prepare a defence against the civil claims of the plaintiffs.

The prosecution finished its presentation of facts on 8 November, after 23 days and according to schedule. The defence, on the other hand, did not use up their allotted time. Ian Lundin’s lawyers had asked for 24 court days but finished after 15 days, and Alex Schneiter’s lawyers used only 14 of the allocated 24 court days, ending on 13 February instead of the 25th of April. There were 17 reserve days scheduled for the factual presentation phase, that have also not been used, adding up to a total of 12 weeks of idle court days. The generosity with which the defence have been spending their time given by the Court could have been used by them to prepare responses to the reparation claims without unduly delaying the case further.

In their presentations, the defence lawyers challenged each and every aspect of the indictment and painted a completely different picture of the historical events than the prosecutor. The essentials of their position are:

  • Lundin’s operations in Sudan were fully legitimate, responsible, and supported by the international community, including Sweden and the EU.
  • The two suspects had no decision making power over security issues.
  • The Prosecutor’s description of crimes is insufficiently specific to justify prosecution and lacks basic details about time, place, primary perpetrators, victims, etc..
  • There is no causal connection between the activities of Lundin and the alleged crimes. The company’s requests for security were unrelated to alleged crimes committed by the Government and militias. The company requested small scale, close-by security guards, who were not involved in any alleged large scale abuses. There is no evidence that the suspects were even aware that international crimes were committed, let alone that they knowingly contributed to them.
  • NGO reports referred to by the Prosecutor cannot be relied upon as evidence in court. They lack credibility, accuracy and reliability, and are based on hearsay, news articles, inaccurate or unverified information in other NGO reports, and unidentified sources whose reliability cannot be verified.
  • The plaintiff interviews from the investigation contain extensive inaccuracies. The selection of the plaintiffs was assisted by biased parties, and the translations and transcripts of their interviews are inaccurate.

In order not to lose more time than necessary, the Court used the month of April for the recorded interviews with the six witnesses who passed away since they were heard by the police. They are three South Sudanese witnesses, John Choul Nhial, Stephen Riak Kurithoi and Stephen Gatbeal Larjin. It also contained the hearing of the witness statements of the author of the 2003 Human Rights Watch report Sudan Oil and Human Rights, Jemera Rone, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan, Gaspar Biro, and former UN officer Dianne de Guzman. The former Minister of the Interior and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan, Gerhart Baum, will not appear in Court and his interview was also played. His statements as well as the hearing of Dianne de Guzman were presented in court prior to the trial began, thus they were cross examined by the defence. The other witnesses had not been questioned by the defence lawyers.

The prosecutor responds to the defence’s presentation of facts on 14 May. Two weeks later, 28 May, the interviews with South Sudanese plaintiffs will start and continue until 28 November. December is reserved for the interrogation of Ian Lundin, and January 2025 for Alex Schneiter.

For detailed descriptions of court proceedings, see Civil Rights Defenders’ weekly updates here.

Scroll to Top