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27 Nov 2023

Unpaid Debt

Sweden: Court throws out the damage claims of war crimes survivors in Lundin case

"Court throws out the damage claims of war crimes survivors", 27 Nov 2023

The Stockholm District Court decided on 22 November 2023 that it will not consider the claims of South Sudanese plaintiffs in the war crimes trial against Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter. Instead they must each open a separate civil case against the suspect. They must then pay for their own lawyers and each deposit... €45.000, the security demanded by the suspects for reimbursing their legal costs if a claim is not awarded. As no claimant can afford this, the court’s decision effectively denies victims of war crimes full access to justice.

In its decision, the court closely follows the arguments of the defence that the trial’s schedule does not allow them to adequately defend against the claims, ignoring the prosecution’s position that a disconnect would in practice mean that the plaintiffs are deprived of the right to review their damages, which is particularly offensive in a case involving massive war crimes...

The court blames its decision entirely on the plaintiffs’ lawyers for having submitted deficient claims and having done so less than three weeks before the long-planned main hearing.

The court’s decision ignores the position of the prosecution that the evidence shows that each plaintiffs was subjected to harm from the criminal method of warfare that are described in the indictment. More fundamentally, it ignores the prosecutor’s argument that separation means that the claims of the plaintiffs will not be examined...

The court’s decision to prioritize the rights of the suspects over those of their alleged victims will certainly damage the credibility of the trial in the eyes of communities in South Sudan, and may even damage the integrity of the trial itself.