Igor KuznetsovAll materialsIn one of the biggest cases in Swedish history, the executives of Lundin Oil, whose board notoriously included former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, stand accused of knowingly paving the way for war crimes.Lundin Oil chairman Ian Lundin and former CEO Alex Schneiter are being prosecuted for aiding and abetting crimes under international law committed in Sudan from 1999-2003 after an investigation that took eleven years, national broadcaster SVT has reported.The preliminary investigation, one of the biggest in the history of Sweden, began in 2010 and covers over 80,000 pages and with hundreds of interrogations and testimonies. It ultimately identified the two executives as having a decisive influence on Lundin Oil’s operations in Sudan. The two are suspected of having contributed to the former Sudanese regime committing violations of the laws of war in order to secure the company’s oil operations in the southern part of Sudan, the Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a press release.
In connection with the prosecution, Lundin Energy AB is being asked to pay damages of nearly SEK 1.4 billion ($160 million), which according to the prosecutor corresponds to the value of the profits the company made from the sale of the business in 2003, according to the press release.
Lundin Oil became active in Sudan in 1991 amid a civil war there. As the country opened up for oil extraction, Lundin Oil began exploration in a previously protected area in southern Sudan – which, according to the indictment, subsequently resulted in fighting and attacks in the region that affected civilians.
According to chamber prosecutor Karolina Wieslander, the accused representatives of Lundin Oil “promoted the crimes that the military and its allied militia came to commit to enable oil operations”. The prosecution said thousands of civilians were killed or misplaced, and that the military and its allied militia systematically attacked civilians from planes and helicopter gunships.Per the indictment, the company informed the government of planned oil exploration, which in turn required the military and the militias to take control of the areas through combat. In connection with these battles, the military and regiment-allied militia committed crimes against the civilian population, the prosecution wrote.
“The main evidence here consists of a large number of civilians who were subjected to attacks. We will also hear witnesses who worked with and studied the situation in Sudan and who, among other things, met refugees and heard their stories. In addition, we rely on written reporting from the area, mainly from the UN and other international organisations as well as from journalists who have covered the area”, Karolina Wieslander said, as quoted by SVT.
Interestingly enough, Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who joined the board of Lundin Oil AB in 2000, drawing substantial criticism, was questioned, but conspicuously escaped prosecution and is only a witness in the case.USSR Handled Afghanistan Pullout Better Than US, Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt Says16 August, 05:05 GMTLundin and Schneiter, who both deny the charges, risk lengthy prison terms if convicted. Ian Lundin’s lawyer Torgny Wetterberg called the indictment “remarkably wrong” suggesting that it will ultimately “break [down] at all counts”.
Lundin Energy (formerly Lundin Petroleum and Lundin Oil) is now almost solely focused on exploration in Norway, where it has dozens of licenses.