Creating new perspectives since 2009

Sudan war crime trial of ex-oil firm executives starts in Sweden

September 5, 2023 at 10:33 am

Ian Lundin (C), former chairman of the Swedish oil company Lundin Oil, gives a statement to the press upon arrival on September 5, 2023 to the District Court in Stockholm, Sweden [JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images]

The former CEO and the chairman of a Swedish oil firm go on trial in Sweden today, accused of complicity in war crimes in Sudan between 1999 and 2003, Reuters has reported.

Prosecutors say then-Lundin Oil – which since then changed name several times and in 2022 sold most of its business – asked Khartoum to secure a potential oilfield in what is now South Sudan, knowing this would mean seizing the area by force.

This made the executives complicit in war crimes that were then carried out by the Sudanese army and allied militia against civilians, according to the 2021 indictment.

“What constitutes complicity in a criminal sense is that they made these demands despite understanding or, in any case being indifferent to, the military and the militia carrying out the war in a way that was forbidden according to international humanitarian law,” the prosecution agency said in 2021.

The firm at the time rejected the allegations, and identified the indicted as former Chairman Ian Lundin and former CEO Alex Schneiter.

Prosecutors in 2021 also filed a claim to confiscate 1.4 billion crowns ($127 million) from the company, corresponding to profits from the sale of the Sudan business in 2003.

Last week Orron Energy ORRON.ST – the company’s name since 2022 when it sold its oil and gas operations to Norway’s Aker BP in a $14 billion deal – said prosecutors had increased the claim to 2.4 billion crowns ($217 million).

The company has said it will contest the claim.

Sweden launched the probe in 2010 following a report on the company’s presence in Sudan by Dutch non-governmental organisation PAX.

Sudan waged war for decades in South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, and elsewhere in the country. Former president Omar Al-Bashir, who ruled between 1989 and 2019, is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague for genocide and other war crimes, which he denies.