The Swedish Supreme Court Thursday ruled that the trial of Swiss citizen and former CEO of Lundin Oil, Alex Schneiter, for alleged war crimes in Sudan, may proceed in Swedish courts. While Lundin Oil is a Swedish based company, Schneiter claims that he cannot be tried in Sweden because he is not a resident. This claim was rejected by a District Court, the Court of Appeal and the Prosecutor General of Sweden.
The Supreme Court of Sweden has now agreed with the lower courts. It held that Schneiter’s alleged crimes are subject to “universal jurisdiction,” which allows, under certain conditions, anyone to be prosecuted anywhere in the world for serious international crimes. Justice Johan Danelius concluded that “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 continue at the Stockholm District Court.
Last November, Schneiter and Lundin’s board chairman Ian Lundin were formally charged with aiding and abetting war crimes between 1999 and 2003 in the area that is now South Sudan. 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 civil war that led to the deaths of thousands of people, the forced displacement of almost 200,000 people, and numerous cases of rape, torture and abduction. Lundin Oil vehemently rejects any allegations of wrongdoing.