Swedish oil company under scrutiny after Sudan war crimes report
An official investigation has been launched after a report alleging Sudan war crimes by Swedish firm Lundin Petroleum. The Swedish foreign minister was on Lundin's board at the time under investigation.
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Their report cites documentation of indiscriminate attacks, targeting of civilians, burning of shelters, pillage, killing, rape, abduction, and torture. It alleges the Sudanese government used “artillery, ground troops, helicopter gunships, and high-altitude bombers against the civilian population.” ECOS estimates that 12,000 people died and 160,000 were forcibly displaced through such efforts.Skip to next paragraph
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According to Said Mahmoudi, professor of International Law at Stockholm University, “if [prosecutor Elving] had not reacted to this report … probably he would have been, himself, under scrutiny." He later added that "you have evidence that Lundin knew about what was happening, and they just closed their eyes simply because it was a question of millions and millions of dollars.”
In 2003, Human Rights Watch also published a report on Sudan, a section of it titled “Lundin: Willfully Blind To Devastation in Block 5A." That's the same area cited in the ECOS report.
Foreign minister's involvement roils Sweden
In Sweden, much of the attention has focused on the potential for criminal prosecution of Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who was a member of Lundin's board from 2000-06. According to Mr. Bratt, under “Swedish law, if there’s a suspicion that there has been a crime within the company, the starting point is always at the top … the board and the managing director."
Opposition parties have united in questioning Mr. Bildt’s ability to continue. A former Social Democratic justice minister urged Bildt to take a “time-out,” while the Left Party demanded his resignation. Swedish Greens questioned if the country could have a foreign minister involved with a question of “genocide.”
For now, Bildt appears to be unmoved by the furor.
“He’s not going to take ‘time-out’ ... and he’s not going to leave,” Irena Busic, Bildt’s press secretary, said in an interview. Referring to the prosecutor’s written statement upon the investigation, Ms. Busic observed that it “doesn’t mention either Lundin Petroleum or Minister Bildt anywhere. So we actually don’t know what he [the prosecutor] is going to investigate.”
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s media secretary, Roberta Alenius, says that the ongoing legal process “has to take its time and there’s no point for us to comment.” It is necessary, she says, for the appropriate authorities “to investigate if there’s anything to this.”
Lundin Petroleum had no comment, but Jeffrey Fountain, its vice president for legal affairs, pointed to an open letter on their website refuting “all the allegations and inferences of wrongdoing attributed to Lundin Petroleum.”
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