Prosecution for complicity in grave war crimes in Sudan
Today, the prosecutor has decided to indict two representatives of the then named company Lundin Oil AB for complicity in grave war crimes in Sudan from 1999 to 2003. They are suspected of having been complicit in war crimes committed by the then Sudanese regime with the purpose of securing the company’s oil operations in southern Sudan. The prosecutors are available to the media this afternoon.
One of the representatives is indicted for complicity for the period May 1999 to March 2003, and the other for the period October 2000 to March 2003. In the prosecutor’s view, these two indicted representatives had a decisive influence on Lundin Oil’s business in Sudan.
In connection with the indictment, there is also a claim to confiscate an amount of 1 391 791 000 SEK from Lundin Energy AB, which, according to the prosecutor, is the equivalent value of the profit of 720 098 000 SEK which the company made on the sale of the business in 2003.
The situation in Sudan at the time of the suspected crime
From 1991, Lundin Oil had business operations in Sudan. For many years, there was a civil war which was characterized by a lack of respect for international humanitarian law, i.e. the laws of armed conflict. As the country opened up for oil exploration, oil and control of the oil fields in southern Sudan became contentious issues in the civil war.
In southern Sudan, Lundin Oil had, since 1997 and via a wholly-owned subsidiary, started oil exploration in an area called Block 5A, approximately 30 000 square kilometers. Until this time, this area had been relatively spared from the affects of the civil war, which had been going on for several years, but until 2003 it became one of the worst affected areas.
The development after the oil exploration started
According to a local peace agreement, which took effect from 1997, between the Sudanese government and several militia groups from the southern states, the responsibility for peace and security in areas including Block 5A was given to the southern states’ military forces and not the Sudanese military.
In accordance with this agreement, these military forces were responsible for the security around Lundin Oil’s operations when the company started the operations in 1997.
In connection with the start of the business operations, a militia group allied to the regime led a series of attacks to take control of Block 5A, but failed. These attacks led to great suffering amongst civilians.
Shortly after Lundin Oil had found oil in Block 5A during 1999, the Sudanese military, together with the same militia group allied to the regime, led offensive military operations to take control of the area and create the necessary preconditions for Lundin Oil’s oil exploration. This led to series of fighting that, with short interruptions, lasted until Lundin Oil left the area during 2003.
In the view of the prosecutor, the Sudanese government, through the military and militia allied to the regime, carried out a war in conflict with international humanitarian law and that, according to Swedish law, constitutes grave war crimes.
”In our view, the investigation shows that the military and its allied militia systematically attacked civilians or carried out indiscriminate attacks. For example, aerial bombardments from transport planes, shooting civilians from helicopter gunships, abducting and plundering civilians and burning entire villages and their crops so that people did not have anything to live by. Consequently, many civilians were killed, injured and displaced from Block 5A”, says Head of the Investigation, Public Prosecutor Henrik Attorps.
Furthermore, the prosecutor argues that the accused, in different ways, were complicit in war crimes. It is this complicity that is now under indictment.
”Directly after the military went into Block 5A in May 1999, in breach of the local peace agreement, Lundin Oil changed its view of who should be responsible for the security around the company’s operations. The company then requested from the Sudanese government that the military should now be made responsible for the security, knowing that this meant that the military would then need to take control of Block 5A via military force. 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”, says Chief Public Prosecutor Krister Petersson.
In the prosecutor’s view, from May 1999 the indicted individuals continued to promote crimes that the military and its allied militia were to commit to enable the continued oil operations until March 2003. Amongst other things, the company undertook vis-a-vis the Sudanese government to build roads in areas that were not in the control of the military or the militia allied to the regime. Furthermore, the company informed the government of the oil exploration planned in such areas. This required that the military and militia needed to take control of the areas via military force before the activities could start. By using such military force the military and militia allied to the regime committed crimes against the civilian population.
The prosecutor’s evidence
The evidence in this case is comprehensive and consists of various parts. One part concerns proving the main crime - grave war crimes – which were committed by unknown people within the Sudanese government as well as the military and the militia allied to the regime.
”The main evidence here consists of a large number of civilians who have been subject to attacks. We will also hear witnesses who followed and studied the situation in Sudan and, amongst other things, met refugees and heard their stories. Besides this, we will rely on written reports from the area, primarily from the UN and other international organisations as well as from journalists who observed the area”, says Public Prosecutor Karolina Wieslander.
Additional evidence aims at proving that the indicted persons were complicit in the crimes committed. The evidence here consists of, amongst other things, how the organisation within the company and its internal reporting on the situation in Sudan looked as well as what communication took place with the Sudanese government. In this respect, the prosecution relies on several witnesses connected to the company.
About the investigation
The investigation started in 2010. It concerns a complex and complicated criminality which took place for several years and in a large geographic area during an ongoing civil war.
During the investigation, a new civil war broke out which meant it was not possible to travel to the area. In contrast to crimes in, for example, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Syria, there are no international courts or investigative mechanisms concerning Sudan, which could have supported the Swedish investigation.
”It is important that these serious crimes are not forgotten. War crimes are one of the most serious crimes that Sweden has an international obligation to investigate and bring to justice. A large number of civilians suffered as a result of the Sudanese regime’s crimes, which we argue the indicted were complicit in. Many of the civilians who survived were forced to flee their homes and never return, and still today have no idea what happened to their relatives and friends who they were separated from”, says Henrik Attorps.
Facts about the investigation:
• Approximately 270 interviews.
• Approximately 150 persons have been interviewed.
• An investigation report consisting more than 80 000 pages.
Stockholm District Court case number: B 11304-14
The prosecutors are available today, Thursday 11 November 13.00-15.00 for interviews in person and 15.00-16.00 for interviews by phone. All interviews must be booked in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org by 12.00 today. When the editorial staff has registered, we will return with an exact time for the interview.
Public Prosecutor Henrik Attorps, Head of the Investigation
Public Prosecutor Karolina Wieslander
Chief Public Prosecutor Krister Petersson
Press Service, +46 10 562 50 20
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The Swedish prosecutor has a central role within the judicial system, both in Sweden and in an international context. The prosecutor’s role is to independently lead criminal investigations, make decisions on charges and take cases to court.
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