Sweden accuses Lundin Energy’s executives of complicity in war crimes in Sudan
- The company, the chairman denies the crime
- Prosecutors say the company wanted the Sudanese army to secure the oil field
- The Dutch NGO calls the indictment historic
STOCKHOLM, November 11 (Reuters) – Swedish prosecutors on Thursday brought charges against the chairman and former CEO of Lundin Energy (LUNE.ST) for complicity in war crimes committed by the Sudanese army and allied militia in southern Sudan from 1999 to 2003.
Prosecutors said the company had asked the Sudanese government to secure a potential oil field, knowing that this would mean forcibly seizing the area. This made the commanders involved in war crimes which were then carried out by the Sudanese army and allied militia against civilians.
“What constitutes complicity in the criminal law sense is that they made these demands even though they understand or at least were indifferent to the military and the militia carrying out the war in a way that was forbidden under international humanitarian law,” the prosecutors said. said the authority in a statement.
Sweden launched an investigation in 2010 following a report on Lundin’s presence in Sudan by the Dutch non-governmental organization PAX, which has called for an investigation into the company’s role in human rights violations there.
“This is a great victory for justice and a historic achievement … This is the first time since Nuremberg as a listed company will be held accountable in court for war crimes,” said Egbert Wesselink, spokesman for PAX, in an email after prosecution.
“Many companies see human rights as a source of risk that needs to be addressed, rather than a norm that needs to be upheld,” he added.
Sweden-based Lundin Energy said in a statement that they reject all reasons for accusations of crime. It identified the accused executives as chairman Ian Lundin and former CEO Alex Schneiter, now a board member. The company, known as Lundin Oil until 2001, sold its Sudan operations in 2003.
Ian Lundin’s lawyer Torgny Wetterberg said on Thursday that his client was innocent: “The prosecutor will never be able to reach convictions. The prosecution is deficient on all counts.”
Schneiter’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
Prosecutors also filed a claim for confiscation of SEK 1.39 billion ($ 161.7 million) from Lundin Energy, which is equivalent to the company’s profit from the sale of the Sudan business in 2003. The company said it would dispute that claim.
The company, whose shares closed almost 5% on Thursday, also said that Ian Lundin will not stand for re-election as chairman at the next AGM.
The accusations stem from an investigation that began in 2010. The company had said in 2016 that prosecutors would interrogate Lundin and Schneiter.
Sudan waged war for decades in South Sudan, which became an independent state in 2011, and in other troubled parts of the country. Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who ruled from 1989 until he was overthrown in 2019 after street protests, is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for genocide and other war crimes, which he denies.
($ 1 = 8.5983 Swedish kronor)
Reporting by Anna Ringström, further reporting by Helena Soderpalm and Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo. Edited by Peter Graff and Barbara Lewis
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