Former oil firm executives go on trial in Sweden over Sudan war crimes

By Anna Ringstrom

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -The former CEO and the former chairman of a Swedish oil firm went on trial in Sweden on Tuesday, accused of complicity in war crimes in Sudan between 1999 and 2003 – charges that they both flatly deny.

Prosecutors say that the former Lundin Oil – which has changed its name several times and in 2022 sold most of its business – asked Khartoum to secure a potential oilfield in what is now South Sudan, knowing that this would mean seizing the area by force.

This made the executives complicit in war crimes that were then carried out by the Sudanese army and allied militia against civilians, according to the 2021 indictment.

The company’s former chairman Ian Lundin, who is on trial alongside former CEO Alex Schneiter, said on Tuesday the accusations made against the pair were false, Swedish news agency TT reported.

“We look forward to defending ourselves in court,” he told reporters at the Stockholm district court, according to TT .

The case is expected to run until early 2026, according to the court’s schedule.

“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,” the prosecution agency said in 2021.

The company has rejected the allegations, as did Schneiter.

The prosecution is also asking the court to confiscate 2.4 billion Swedish crowns ($217 million) from the company, now known as Orron Energy, up from an initial claim of 1.4 billion made in 2021.

The company has said it will contest the claim.

Sweden launched the probe in 2010 following a report on the company’s presence in Sudan by Dutch non-governmental organization PAX.

Sudan waged war for decades in South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, and elsewhere in the country. Former president Omar al-Bashir, who ruled between 1989 and 2019, is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for genocide and other war crimes, which he denies.

($1 = 11.0760 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Terje Solsvik; Editing by Sandra Maler and Hugh Lawson)