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10 Nov 2022

The Supreme Court of Sweden

Swedish court has jurisdiction to hear a case of alleged war crimes in Sudan

In November 2021, the prosecutor brought charges against two people for complicity in war crimes that they, as representatives of companies within the Swedish oil company group Lundin Oil, allegedly committed in Sudan between 1999 and 2003. One person is a Swiss citizen and resident of Switzerland. He was in Switzerland when the charges were filed.

The Supreme Court has now examined whether the Swedish court has jurisdiction to hear the charges against the Swiss citizen. The Court finds that, according to the Swedish legislation, the crime is subject to so-called universal jurisdiction. This means that a Swedish court, as a starting point, has jurisdiction to hear the case regardless of who has committed the crime, who the crime has been directed at and where the crime has been committed.

According to the Supreme Court, even in the exercise of universal jurisdiction, some form of connection to Sweden is required for a prosecution to be tried here. A further prerequisite is that there is no obstacle to it in international customary law.

The Supreme Court has concluded that the connection to Sweden is sufficient for the prosecution to be tried in Swedish courts and that there is no obstacle to it in international customary law.

- The fact that the defendant is not in Sweden does not constitute an obstacle to Swedish jurisdiction, provided that the connection to Sweden in other respects is sufficient, says Justice Johan Danelius, who is one of the judges who participated in the decision.

The Supreme Court's decision means that the indictment is not dismissed. The court has therefore not ruled on the claim for costs made by the Swiss citizen in the case.

The handling of the criminal case is now continuing at the Stockholm District Court.