Trial begins in Sweden against oil executives accused of complicity in Sudanese war crimes

STOCKHOLM — Two executives of a Swedish oil exploration and production company went to court in Stockholm on Tuesday to secure the company’s activities in Sudan over their alleged complicity in war crimes 20 years ago.

Swedish prosecutors allege that former Lundin Oil chairman Ian Lundin and the company’s former chief executive, Alex Schneiter, supported the Sudanese government of former dictator Omar al-Bashir, which was toppled in a popular uprising in April 2019.

The two leaders are accused of being involved in the Sudanese government’s military campaign to clear an area in southern Sudan for oil production. The campaign “resulted in the Sudanese military and regime-allied militia systematically attacking civilians or at least carrying out systematic attacks in violation of the principles of distinction and proportionality,” prosecutors said.

Lundin told reporters at the Stockholm District Court that the charges were “completely false.”

“We look forward to defending ourselves in court,” he said.

The trial is expected to run until early 2026.

A 1983-2005 civil war between the Muslim-dominated north and the Christian south tore Sudan apart. A separate conflict in Darfur, the war-torn region of western Sudan, began in 2003. Thousands of people were killed and nearly 200,000 displaced.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 to become the world’s youngest nation.

Swedish prosecutors said the Sudanese government conducted offensive military operations in the Block 5A oil field and its vicinity in southern Sudan between May 1999 and March 2003 to gain control of areas for oil exploration and to create the necessary conditions for oil extraction, the prosecution said.

During the military operations, serious violations of international humanitarian law were committed, it said.

In a statement, prosecutors said Lundin and Schneiter “participated in entering into” a deal involving a right to search for and extract oil in a large area of ​​southern Sudan “in exchange for the payment of fees and a share in future surplus. ”

Lundin was the operator for a consortium of companies exploring Block 5A, including Malaysia’s Petronas Carigali Overseas, OMV (Sudan) Exploration GmbH of Austriaand the Sudanese state-owned oil company Sudapet Ltd.

Prosecutors want the directors barred from conducting business activities for 10 years, and the Swedish company fined 3 million kroner (US$272,250). They also want 1.4 billion kroner ($127 million) confiscated from Lundin Oil due to financial benefits obtained from the alleged crimes.

In Sweden, the maximum penalty for complicity in war crimes is life imprisonment, which generally means a minimum of 20 to 25 years. Prosecutors typically demand the sentence they want for a conviction at the end of the trial.

The post Trial begins in Sweden against oil executives accused of complicity in Sudanese war crimes

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