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20 Jan 2023

Unpaid Debt

Sweden: Lundin Energy trial over alleged complicity in war crimes in Sudan set for September 2023

"Lundin Trial Begins September 5", 20 Jan 2023

The Stockholm District Court decided on 11 January that the trial against Ian H. Lundin and Alex Schneiter will begin on the 5th of September, 2023. The court hearings... may take two years until judgment.

The day after the District Court’s decision on the court date, the defence filed several complaints. They are once again arguing that the indictment is too vague. In four separate documents, containing 40 pages in total, the defence lawyers argue that the information provided is not enough for them to prepare their defence or even sufficient to constitute a violation of international law for anyone...

The same argument was previously made in July 2021 by Alex Schneiter and was then rejected by the District Court. The argument was made again in October 2022 at which time the District Court agreed with the defence and asked that the prosecutor, Henrik Attorp provide more details – which he promptly did.

...[I]n war crimes cases it suffices to show a general pattern of crimes instead of a precise description of the date, place, perpetrator, etc. of each crime. By requesting that the prosecutor sets out the time and place for each criminal act, it is clear that the defence does not acknowledge the distinct nature of international crimes...

In another development, the District Court has rejected the prosecutors’ request to hear two witnesses and two plaintiffs at preliminary trial-hearings.

The prosecutor has on three occasions during 2022 urged that the witnesses and plaintiffs be heard before the trial starts as “they may be considered to have reached such an old age that it is feared that their state of health may rapidly deteriorate, whereby they will not be able to attend a main hearing.”  

The defence opposed each request. The District Court has sided with them...

The defence have also complained about the time that the prosecutor needs for questioning certain victims and witnesses on the preliminary trial schedule, and requested that the prosecutor presents a new schedule...

In addition, the defence requested that expert witnesses provide written expert opinions before the trial starts. This is despite the fact that the defence already has access to the extensive police interviews with these witnesses and will have the opportunity to cross-examine each of them in court...

Finally, the prosecutor noted that he is supplementing the preliminary investigation, but did not provide any specifics.

To conclude, January has been a busy month. The defence’s attempts to delay or derail the trial are increasingly desperate and their current card, complaints about the vagueness of the indictment, is not particularly strong... Having a trial-date is of huge importance to the victims of war crimes who have been waiting for over 20 years to see justice done...