Executives of Lundin Oil (now Orrön Energy) Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter’s criminal trial for alleged war crimes in Sudan began on Tuesday.Schneiter and Lundin are charged with “complicity in grave war crimes.” In November 2021, Swedish prosecutors indicted Lundin and Schneiter for Lundin Oil’s operations in Sudan from 1999 to 2003. Lundin Energy calls the charges “impossible and grossly inaccurate.” The defendants also vehemently deny any wrongdoing. Prosecutors allege that Lundin Oil was complicit in war crimes committed by the government of Sudan while the company operated oil fields in Sudan.Swedish prosecutors began their investigation in 2010 in response to ‘Unpaid Debt,’ a report by Dutch non-governmental organization PAX. According to the report, in 1997, members of an oil consortium led by Lundin Oil signed a contract with the government of Sudan for oil exploration right in an oil concession called “Block 5A.” The arrival of the oil consortium lead to a government policy of forced deportation of locals and exacerbated civil war in the region. Block 5A was a center point of conflict. From 1997-2003, thousands died and almost 200,000 were displaced.The Khartoum Peace Agreement was signed in 1997 between the government of Sudan and militia leaders from southern Sudan. The agreement gave peacekeeping powers of the region containing Block 5A to militia leaders of southern Sudan. The oil consortium lead by Lundin Oil reportedly made efforts to get the Sudanese government to build roads in areas outside of their control and tried to use the Sudanese military to take control of the area containing Block 5A, both in violation of the agreement.Swedish prosecutors allege: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.A Swedish public prosecutor stated “what constitutes complicity in a criminal sense is that [Lundin Oil] 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 crimes will be prosecuted on the basis of universal jurisdiction as provided for in Chapter 2, Section 3 (6) of the Swedish Penal Code. According to PAX, the trial is the first time since the Nuremburg trials that a multi-billion dollar company stands accused of aiding and abetting war crimes. 32 South Sudanese plaintiffs also filed claims against Lundin and Schneiter for damages related to Lundin Oil’s activities, but those claims have been separated from the present proceeding, which concerns war crimes.

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