The Supreme Court of Sweden on Nov. 10 ruled that the trial of Alex Schneiter, a Swiss citizen and former CEO of Lundin Oil charged in connection with war crimes in Sudan, may proceed in the Swedish courts. While Lundin Oil is a Swedish-based company, Schneiter claims that he cannot be tried in Sweden because he is neither a citizen nor a resident. This claim was rejected by the lower courts, and now by the high court. The Supreme Court held that Schneiter’s alleged crimes are subject to “universal jurisdiction,” which allows anyone to be prosecuted anywhere in the world for serious international crimes. Justice Johan Danelius concluded: “The fact that the defendant is not [resident] in Sweden does not constitute an obstacle to Swedish jurisdiction, provided that the connection to Sweden in other respects is sufficient.” The criminal case will now proceed in the Stockholm District Court.
Last November, Schneiter and Lundin’s board chairman Ian Lundin were formally charged with aiding and abetting war crimes in Sudan between 1999 and 2003. The Swedish investigation began after a 2010 report by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan. The report alleged that the operations of Lundin Oil sparked a local civil war that led to the deaths of thousands of people, the forced displacement of almost 200,000, and numerous cases of rape, torture and abduction. Lundin Oil vehemently rejects any grounds for allegations of wrongdoing.
From Jurist, Nov. 11. Used with permission.
Note: The case concerns an area called Block 5A in what was then southern Sudan, at that time wracked by a pro-independence insurgency. Lundin requested in 1999 that government forces and allied militias provide for the company’s security in the area, knowing that this would entail deadly force and enflame the conflict, according to the indictment. Since the country split in 2011, the area has been in South Sudan. (OCCRP) Lundin, currently in the process of reorganizing as Orrön Energy, maintains a website asserting its innocence in the case.
The oil blocs in the area are still under production, but the pipeline that brings the oil to market now passes across the border between South Sudan and Sudan, which has been a point of contention between the two countries.
Map via Rixstep