Report 4: Part Two of the Prosecution’s Opening Statement

Gavel on a dark background

In our previous report, we covered the initial days of the prosecution’s opening presentation. The report provided an overview of the prosecution’s description of the Lundin companies first two years in Block 5A. This week, we will cover relevant events leading up to the first charge against Ian Lundin in more detail, as well as paragraph 6a and 9a of the indictment. 

The third week of trial proceedings did not recommence in the amicable spirit that had lightened the mood in the courtroom the previous Thursday. The defense instead took the opportunity to reprimand the prosecution for the way in which they had decided to present their position. They argued that it was not clear which parts of the evidentiary material had been referred to and suggested that the prosecution’s summaries gave a false account of the facts presented. After a short discussion, however, the proceedings were able to begin when Judge Tomas Zanders settled for simply noting the defense’s comment for the record. Nonetheless, throughout the week it became apparent that Judge Zanders was not completely satisfied with the prosecution’s presentation, resulting in multiple interruptions and requests for clarification from the court. Eventually, the prosecution opted for allowing the interpreters to read the English evidentiary material which seemed to settle the conflict and the proceedings continued seamlessly.   

The Government of Sudan’s Efforts to Take Control of Block 5A in 1998

Last week, the prosecution alleged that the Government of Sudan tried to retain control of the oil exploration in Block 5A after the signing of the Khartoum Peace Agreement. Through assigning representatives from state security force Petroleum Security and OEPA (Oil Exploration Production Authority) to supervise the security in Block 5A, the government maintained their presence in the area, despite agreeing to give southern Sudanese rebel group SSDF that responsibility.  

However, this week the prosecution provided evidence intended to show that the Government of Sudan went even further to establish their interests in Block 5A. During 1998, a prominent militia leader called Paulino Matiep carried out multiple military offensives in Block 5A. Matiep was engaged in a violent conflict with SSDF commander Tito Biel, which according to the prosecution resulted in various attacks on civilians in southern Sudan. The conflict also affected Sudan Ltd.’s operations in the area and forced the company to suspend their activity in various sections of Block 5A during 1998.  

According to the Khartoum Peace Agreement, SSDF was to be in control of security in Block 5A. Nevertheless, Matiep’s forces fought to reclaim territory in the region and create unrest. The prosecution quoted a Human Rights Watch report to describe the conflict: “Matiep pushed civilians out of the main area of exploration. As his forces swept across Block 5A from north to south, temporarily displacing tens of thousands, there was some fighting with SSDF, but most fighting involved contact with unarmed civilians.”  

According to the prosecution, Matiep did not act alone. They referenced multiple NGO reports as well as internal security reports from Sudan Ltd., which aimed to show that Matiep was financed and supported by the government of Sudan. By signing the Khartoum Peace Agreement, the government had agreed to not deploy military troops in Block 5A. However, the prosecution claimed, the regime did not intend to keep their promise. Instead, the government sought to prove that SSDF was not capable of providing security in the area to justify military deployment in Block 5A. In the hopes of securing control of the oil exploration the government encouraged needless violence.  

The prosecution also aimed to show that representatives within the Lundin companies were aware that their oil exploration fueled the conflict. On 1 May 1998 Sudan Ltd.’s H&SE personnel stated their main area of concern regarding security in Block 5A was the fighting between Matiep and SSDF commander Tito Biel. They added: “The dispute between Tito and Matiep boils down to the fact that Tito wants to be in control of the Highland Crew area. Whomever controls the Block 5A area will have control over oil production.”  

Lundin Oil AB Strikes Oil

The situation in Block 5A deteriorated in May 1999 when Sudan Ltd. struck oil at the Thar Jath drilling site. The prosecution presented multiple documents showing that the discovery of oil was a great success for Lundin Oil AB, as well as the Sudanese government. Following the discovery, Adolf Lundin – board member of Lundin Oil AB and Ian Lundin’s father – stated in a letter to a Sudanese ambassador: “I was very happy to hear from you that your government has full confidence in our company. We have found a large oil field, and we believe oil production from this ought to be substantial and profitable both for Sudan and for us.”  

As described in the previous report, only days after this information reached the government of Sudan, military troops were deployed in Block 5A in direct violation of the Khartoum Peace Agreement. This action taken by the regime was not appreciated by the SSDF, who in retaliation for the deployment decided to launch a military attack on the Thar Jath drilling site.   

Attack on Thar Jath Drilling Site

The prosecution spent more than half a day detailing the events of the 2nd of May 1999. They held that the attack on the Thar Jath drilling site from SSDF forces, supported by rebel group SPLA, led to the killing of three Petroleum Security personnel and damages to the Sudan Ltd. rig camp. Security reports from Sudan Ltd. stated that following the offensive, there remained further risk for attacks on the rig site, abductions of personnel, harassment, and terrorist attacks. Sudan Ltd. consequently had to evacuate all personnel from Thar Jath.   

However, only two days after the attack, elements of a sizeable Sudan Army force were seen deploying into the area. On the 5th of May 1999 the Sudanese army was in possession of the Thar Jath rig site, and 30-45 of Tito’s SSDF-troops were reported deceased. Internal analysis from the Lundin companies showed that they deemed the discovery of oil was the cause for the military’s initial deployment into Block 5A. They stated that: “It was known by all parties that fighting between the SSDF and the army could be a result of the deployment in the Block […] The military presence at the rig site is intended to be permanent. Now that the government is aware of the discovery of oil this is probably a correct assessment.”  

The security reports following the attack also showed that Sudan Ltd. Were aware of the government’s strategic support for Paulino Matiep. “The deployment of the army was to quell further in-fighting between Paulino and Tito. In hindsight, a deployment of the Army without an arrangement of this nature would be politically unlikely.”  

Because of the attack, the Sudan Ltd. Security personnel also found that the hybrid guard force imposed by the IPC in the beginning of 1999 had been ineffective and not cohesive. Furthermore, they recommended that all future operations be guarded solely by the Sudanese army. In summary, the prosecution stated their view that the military deployment and subsequent attack on Thar Jath led to the Lundin companies’ full cooperation with and reliance on the military – and, therefore, the Sudanese government – for all future operations.   

“We Demand Full Military Control”

Following the attack, Sudan Ltd.’s internal security reports provided by the prosecution indicated that the Lundin companies had decided to rely on the military for future protection. In a report published two weeks after the attack, it became apparent that Sudan Ltd. demanded “full military control of 50 km around the rig site” to continue their operations. The report also stated that “all indications are that the future stability of the Block is in doubt.”   

The instability of the region was also reinforced by further internal security and NGO reports. Sudan Ltd. personnel were concerned that despite the army’s relative success in reclaiming control of the Thar Jath rig site, the rebel group SPLA, now aligned with SSDF, would continue to place a high priority on disrupting the oil activity in the area. They noted that there were heightened possibilities for increased fighting in Block 5A, both in the short and long term. A major cause for concern was subsequently that “the Sudanese army does not have full control of Block 5A.”  

To summarize, the prosecution up until this point had aimed to prove four core circumstances:  

1) Representatives within the Lundin companies, including Ian Lundin and Alexandre Schneiter, had knowledge of the Sudanese military’s illicit methods of warfare, conducted both through proxy forces and the regular army; 

2) The conflicts in the area were largely fueled by the exploration for and discovery of oil; 

3) Representatives within the Lundin companies, including Ian Lundin, demanded that the Sudanese army obtain military control of their area of operations in order for Lundin Oil AB to uphold the Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA); and  

4) Sudan Ltd.’s area of operations was not yet under military control.  

Still, representatives from the Lundin Companies continued to praise the government for their assistance. In November 1999 Adolf Lundin was quoted in a letter to the Sudanese government, stating: “Sudan is an excellent host country […] We are very impressed with the government’s resolve to help the oil companies in any way.”  

Point 9a of the Indictment – Ian Lundin’s Alleged Decisions and Demands

On the 9th day of proceedings, the prosecution was prepared to explicitly address the first point of the indictment concerning Ian Lundin. He stands accused of aiding and abetting the Government of Sudan’s crime against international law by, sometime between the 3-17 May 1999, deciding that the Lundin companies should present demands to the Sudanese government that the military take over responsibility for securing and creating the conditions for Sudan Ltd.’s operations in Block 5A. The prosecution alleges that, following this decision, these demands were presented to the Sudanese government which accepted the request at a meeting on 8th of June 1999. Through initiating this agreement, the prosecution held that Ian Lundin aided and abetted the Sudanese government’s subsequent crimes.  

To illustrate their claim, the prosecution presented a timeline of relevant events leading up to and facilitating the offense. On the 28th of September 1998, Ian Lundin demanded an oversight of the security in the area. Following this analysis, Sudan Ltd. asked the Sudanese government to assist in securing the company’s area of operations. By December 1999, the Sudanese government and Lundin companies had agreed that the military henceforth would provide security for the company.  In January 1999, Ian Lundin wrote a letter to the Minister of Energy and Mining Awad El-Jazz, threatening to invoke force majeure if the previous agreement regarding military protection was not fulfilled. Security reports from the spring of 1999 showed that SSDF was opposed to a military deployment in Block 5A. Regardless, following the discovery of oil in May 1999, the military entered Block 5A. The deployment induced violent strife between the military and SSDF, with support from SPLA, causing serious harm to civilian life and property. Following the deployment, Lundin Oil AB once again demanded that the Sudanese government attain full military control of their area of operations, which the regime agreed to during a meeting on the 8th of June 1999.  

The prosecution held that these demands were made with knowledge of the government’s use of illicit methods of warfare, as well as the fact that the Sudanese military was not yet in control of the area. Consequently, Ian Lundin’s actions, which resulted in the agreement of 8th June 1999, facilitated the Sudanese government’s subsequent criminal actions in Block 5A, which were carried out to fulfill the demands from the Lundin companies.    

Point 6a of the Indictment – International Crime, Serious Offense

Noting that they were a bit ahead of schedule, the prosecution also had time to provide an oversight of point 6a of the indictment. Point 6a regards the first act contributing to the Sudanese government’s alleged violation of international law. The Sudanese military, together with Paulino Matiep’s regime-led militia group SSUM, stand accused of having conducted several ground and air attacks, between May and October 1999, in and around Block 5A, to create conditions for Sudan Ltd.’s planned activities. According to the prosecution, many of the areas which were attacked contained populated settlements and villages. 

Drawing upon a Human Rights Watch report, the prosecution explained that the military deployment in Block 5A marked the beginning of a new phase in the struggle for control over the area, where the Sudanese regular army took direct part in the fighting. In the days following the army’s advance on Thar Jath, the Government and SSUM troops continued to Duar, Koch, and Ler to push SSDF troops and civilians out of the area. According to Human Rights Watch, the offensive led to the abduction of civilians, rape, looting and destruction of civilian property.  

The SSDF, newly aligned with the rebel group SPLM/A, managed to launch a counterattack on the SSUM troops in July, gaining territory in the north of Block 5A. However, the government forces came to SSDF’s aid, intervening with attack helicopters and Antonov planes. This led to the rebel troops having to retreat to an area south of Block 5A. Following the attack, the government announced a flight ban encompassing the majority of Block 5A, which cut civilians off from life sustaining food and emergency supplies from foreign NGOs.  

The prosecution held that the fighting that took place between May and October 1999 led to massive displacement of civilians. By looting and destroying civilian property, and capturing and killing those who did not flee, regime- led SSUM troops intentionally drove away civilians from Block 5A. The prosecution reported that many civilians also sought refuge in the swamplands, which caused outbreaks of malaria, killing many of those in hiding.    

During May to October 1999, multiple international relief organizations referenced by the prosecution reported they were unable to provide food, health care and vaccinations to civilians in Block 5A due to the unrest and flight bans issued by the government. By September 1999, the World Food Programme reported that 24 000 civilians were in dire need of aid. Still, the government kept the flight ban in effect, and according to one account even bombed a village the same day they had granted the World Food Programme access to dispense emergency relief in the area.   

A turning point in the conflict was when previously regime allied commander Peter Gatdet mutinied and became loyal to rebel group SPLM/A in September 1999. This, along with the alliance between SPLM/A and SSDF, increased the number of anti-government forces in Block 5A and decreased the regime’s opportunity to wage a proxy-war.  

Lundin Oil AB’s Reaction to the Intensified Conflict

Internal security reports from Sudan Ltd. presented by the prosecution showed that the Lundin companies had intimate knowledge of the nature of the conflict. The company also reportedly had to suspend their activities in Block 5A during the summer due to the violent conflict and instability in the region. However, the prosecution presented media statements made by representatives from Lundin Oil AB, who seemed to blame the halt of operations on the rainy season. On the 21st of May 1999, Adolf Lundin said that the company would not be able to continue testing the oil found in Thar Jath until the fall, due to massive rainfall. The same message was repeated in Lundin Oil AB’s interim report for 1999.  

By 1999, information regarding the Sudanese government’s alleged attacks on civilians had begun to spread around the world. The prosecution concluded the third week of proceedings by detailing Lundin Oil AB’s public response to the allegations regarding their suspected complicity in these illicit attacks. They showed a segment from Swedish National Television aired in late 1999, featuring Lundin Oil AB’s Deputy Managing Director Magnus Nordin. When presented with accusations of the Sudanese government’s illicit warfare, Nordin vehemently denied that civilians were being targeted or killed by the Sudanese army in Block 5A. Furthermore, he stated that if attacks occurred, it had nothing to do with Lundin Oil AB’s operations in the area, claiming: “It is much harder to murder people in areas where oil companies are present, than areas where we are not.” 

The Next Report

In the next report, we will continue to provide coverage of the prosecution’s upcoming presentation on the substantive aspects of the Lundin Oil Trial.