The Lundin trial beats all records in Sweden

The Stockholm District Court has released the timetable for the Lundin trial. The case against Ian H. Lundin, Alex Schneiter, and Lundin will to be heard from Tuesday 5 September until 19 March 2026. That is an astonishingly long time, during which the court will hear 95 plaintiffs and witnesses. The scale of the crimes and the complexity of the case are incomparable with any other in Swedish criminal history.

In Sweden, complicity in international crimes can be punished with life imprisonment and the court may declare Lundin’s operation a criminal enterprise and forfeit all benefits for an estimated. €130 million. The stakes are high and there will be a long and tough legal battle.

The defendants Ian Lundin and Alexandre Schneiter stand accused of having supported gross and systematic international crimes, that were committed by Sudanese military and allied militia in the interest of their company Lundin. The suspects and their company Lundin, that was recently stripped of its valuable assets and renamed Orrön Energy, deny any wrongdoing.

The criminal investigation opened in June 2010. Since then, two plaintiffs and three witnesses have sadly passed away. The length of the investigation is highly unusual in ordinary criminal cases, but less so in war crimes cases that are typically quite complicated. The Lundin investigation covered 5 years of company operations in an environment that was full of twists and turns. The police had no access to Sudan or South Sudan and could not visit the place of the crimes or interview primary perpetrators, while the suspects employed many lawyers who know how to give prosecutors a hard time and cause delays.

The court’s timetable shows that the prosecutor will need an astonishing 23 days to present the evidence. In even the most extensive criminal cases, this normally takes 2 to 4 days. As a rule, defence lawyers need less time than the prosecutor to lay down their position. Nevertheless, the three defence teams are booked for 50 days, from 28 November 2023 until 25 April 2024. This is unheard of, and it will be hard work for the defence lawyers to talk sense for 50 consecutive court days.

The hearings of the 34 plaintiffs will start on May 28th 2024 and ends in December. The two suspects will then be cross-examined between 10 December 2024 and 30 January 2025. Next, the court has set aside 12 months, until January 2026, to hear 57 witnesses. And finally, the prosecutor and the defence will deliver their concluding pleas in February and March 2026, bringing the total number of scheduled court days to 220. By comparison, the longest trial in Swedish history so far lasted for one year and the second longest only 7 months. Depending on the court’s judgement, either the prosecution or the defence are expected to appeal, which could prolong the case into AD 2028 before final judgment.

Several prominent personalities will be called to testify, including former German Interior Minister Gerhard Baum; former prime minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt; former Special Envoy for the Government of Canada, John Harker; the CEO of Africa Oil Corp, Keith Hill; the renowned historian Douglas Johnson; the former Director for African Affairs at the US National Security Council, John Prendergast; and the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Annette Weber. The plaintiffs are represented by two well-known Swedish lawyers, Percy Bratt, and former Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström; they are assisted by the Clooney Foundation for Justice. The three teams of defence lawyers receive advice from, among others, international lawyer Prof. William Schabas and Steven Kay KC, who he has made a name for himself as defence lawyer for Dusko Tadic and Slobodan Milosevic.

The 34 South Sudanese plaintiffs will claim damages. While Swedish criminal law applies to the criminal charges, contemporary Sudanese law applies to the civil claims that are added to the case.

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