Report 6: Part Four of The Prosecution’s Opening Presentation
Our previous report detailed the fourth week of the prosecution’s opening presentation. The report focused on the events of the first half of the year 2000. In particular, we described the continued cooperation between the Lundin companies and the Sudanese government, as well as Lundin Oil AB’s response to increased international criticism. Specifically, Sudan Ltd. undertook the responsibility to construct an all-weather road and perform seismic activity in an area not controlled by the government. The prosecution alleged that this led to the government having to undertake additional offensive military operations, which will be described in this report.
This report will initially focus on the Sudanese army’s offensive military operations which the prosecution alleges took place during February – September 2000, as referenced in point 6b of the indictment. We will also go through the prosecution’s description of Lundin Oil AB’s response to these attacks, as well as the increased scrutiny faced by the company from international media and NGO’s. Furthermore, the report will summarize the prosecution’s account of the deepened cooperation between the company and the Sudanese government, as well as the correlation between the Sudanese army’s actions and Lundin Oil AB’s continued operations in Block 5A.
“The Government Does Not Want People Anywhere Near the Oil”
As mentioned in the previous report, the prosecution held that in late 1999, the Lundin consortium had agreed to construct an all-weather road between Rubkona and Thar Jath and committed to performing 250 km of seismic operations in Jikany – an area not controlled by the government or government regulated militia. The all-weather road would also have to pass through Jikany, which was a concern for the company as well as the military. In amendments to the operational agreements, the government undertook responsibility for providing security for these commitments. The prosecution aimed to show that the government fulfilled this responsibility through conducting offensive military operations, which targeted civilians and southern rebel leaders in Block 5A.
As the prosecution described it, the renewed offensive was launched on the 7th of February 2000. To show this, the prosecution referenced an internal security report written by Sudan Ltd.’s security personnel. In the report, it was stated that “On Monday, the 7th of February, the army used a [Sudan Ltd.] barge to deploy a force of troops […] to secure the 15 km security zone.” Following the deployment, the company stated they awaited clearance from the military to start conducting their operations and move equipment.
To describe the method of warfare employed by the Government of Sudan, the prosecution referenced a report by Human Rights Watch, published in December 2000. The report described how the government had stepped up its brutal expulsion of southern villagers from oil production areas and used oil revenues to finance the war. From multiple sources cited by the prosecution, a pattern in the Government’s warfare tactics became apparent. First, a village would be subject to aerial bombardment. Then, ground troops and attack helicopters would move in, burning who and what was left of the settlement. The prosecution claimed the aim of the attacks was to depopulate the areas targeted, and by burning and looting the villages make sure that no one would return. In a report from the organisation Christian Aid, one of the plaintiffs in the Lundin Oil trial was quoted, saying: “Antonov’s [Soviet cargo planes, eds. remark] bombed the villages to scatter the people, then government troops arrived – killing anyone who was unable to flee […] All the villages along the road have been burned. The government does not want people anywhere near the oil.”
The prosecution claimed that during the months February to June 2000, a series of intense attacks occurred, with the targets encompassing several substantial settlements situated within Block 5A, notably including the Jikany area, as mentioned above. According to the prosecution, in June 2000, the militia group SSIM became allied with the government which led to SPLA leader Peter Gadet becoming the greatest remaining threat to the Government. Because of this, Government attacks between June – September 2000 primarily took place in the Nhialdiu area, which at that time was a stronghold for Peter Gadet. According to the prosecutor, this area was populated by civilians and at times a refuge for thousands of internally displaced people, who were once again forced to flee to escape the Government’s renewed attacks.
As noted, the prosecution’s opening presentation is scheduled to last until the 8th of November. From the 29th of November Ian Lundin, Alexandre Schneiter and Orrön Energy will have the opportunity to present their defense. This procedural arrangement is in accordance with the Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure. During the proceedings, however, it has become apparent that the defense is anxious to present their position. One especially telling incident occurred during the week. After the prosecution had presented an appendix to a letter from Human Rights Watch to the US Secretary of State, detailing rebel allegiances in Block 5A, Alexandre Schneiter’s defense attorney Per E Samuelsson could not help himself but proclaimed: “The prosecutor will stir anything together, read whatever and just make things up. It is all a big soup, really! We want to reiterate that what the prosecution is alleging is not undisputed. Do not take it for granted, there is a whole other story coming.” Judge Tomas Zander, seemingly a little bit taken aback, assured the defense that the court was aware that the prosecution’s presentation was disputed and that they of course would take all the evidence presented into consideration. He then urged the prosecution to proceed.
Lundin Oil AB’s Reaction to the Renewed offensive Military Operations
Resuming the discussion within the context of Block 5A, the prosecution proceeded to provide evidentiary support concerning the responses of Lundin Oil AB to the resumption of military operations and insurgent attacks that transpired throughout the year 2000. As mentioned in the previous report, the prosecution has alleged that Lundin Oil AB continuously denied and downplayed any threat to the company or civilians in Block 5A. But according to the prosecution, Lundin Oil AB had to postpone their operations in Block 5A following the Government’s accidental attack on the Thar Jath rig site mentioned in the previous report. Operations could not fully resume until 2001.
To prove that the Lundin companies were understating the severity of the instability of the Block, the prosecution showed an excerpt of an unedited version of the minutes of a Lundin Oil AB board meeting on the 10th of August 2000, which read: “A disappointment during the period was the postponement of our work programme until next year due to security situations in the area of operations.” This quote was later deleted, and in the following public interim report logistical issues were instead cited as the major reason for the halt of operations.
In addition to the aforementioned evidence, the prosecution presented quotes from a Human Rights Watch report, published in 2003, where Lundin Oil AB was accused of hiding the ongoing armed conflict in Block 5A. The report also stated that “waves of massive displacement have destroyed the lives of Block 5A residents since the start of 1997.” On the 5th of September 2000, Ian Lundin wrote a letter to Human Rights Watch, in response to some of their allegations. He reiterated that “Lundin Oil activities are still at the exploratory stage. We therefore have a limited presence and impact there. Thus, it is difficult for us to fully refute or confirm what you claim to be undisputed facts.” The prosecution claimed this showed that Ian Lundin was at least aware that Human Rights Watch believed the company was contributing to the conflict, even if he did not agree.
The prosecution also argued that Lundin Oil AB appreciated the actions taken by the Government of Sudan to ensure their operations. Most notably, they showed minutes from a meeting between representatives from the Government and the Lundin consortium on the 4th of October 2000, which Alexandre Schneiter, among others, attended. During the meeting, Lundin representatives stated that no credible guarantees for Block security could be given for the upcoming season. Representatives from the Sudanese Government questioned this statement, whereupon Alexandre Schneiter emphasized that no criticism of the Government’s efforts and achievements was implied or intended. “On the contrary, the government is to be congratulated on its past efforts and future commitments. […] It is clear that the Government is making great effort to secure the area for next year’s operations.” This statement by Alexandre Schneiter also forms the basis of point 9e of the indictment. The prosecution alleged that by making these appreciative remarks and praising the government’s efforts, Alexandre Schneiter encouraged the Government in its criminal acts. The prosecution also stated that during the meeting, he presented additional demands for increased security in Block 5A. Furthermore, they accused him of aiding and abetting the government in their illicit warfare by identifying SPLA affiliated rebel leader Peter Gadet as the main threat to the company’s security and upcoming operations.
Military Success for the Government – Lundin Oil AB Resumes Operations
As noted, Lundin Oil AB had to postpone operations for a large part of 2000 due to the unstable security situation in the Block. However, the prosecution stated that by the end of 2000, the Government’s renewed offensive military operations had largely been successful, which enabled the company to resume operations in Block 5A. By late 2000 Sudan Ltd. was making progress on the construction of the all-weather road from Rubkona to Thar Jath and completed the project in December 2000. By early 2001, the company was also able to conduct further testing on the Thar Jath oil rig, leading to further discovery of oil on the 5th of March 2001. Alexandre Schneiter noted in a fax message to Minister of Energy and Mining, Awad El Jazz, on the 4th of April 2001: “Following the testing of Thar Jath, this well is a discovery well. […] On behalf of the Block 5A participants I should like to express my thanks for your assistance with our exploratory activities to date.”
The discovery of additional oil in Thar Jath was a large success for the company. In a press release on the 31st of May 2001, Lundin Oil revealed that from the two Thar Jath testing sites, 4 250 barrels of oil were extracted every day. On June 18th, 2001, Alexandre Schneiter expressed further gratitude to the Minister of Energy and Mining, adding in another fax message: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for all your support during these last years and I’m looking forward to further successes in the years to come.”
SPLA Commander Peter Gadet Becomes the Primary Threat
As noted, after the militia group SSIM became allied with the Government of Sudan in June 2000, the remaining threat to the government mainly consisted of Peter Gadet and his SPLA forces. The prosecution claimed that in order to defeat Peter Gadet, the Government carried out further offensive military operations, primarily in an area of Block 5A called Nhialdiu. This was one of Peter Gadet’s strongholds, as well as a civilian settlement. To show the escalating conflict between Gadet and the military, the prosecution referenced internal security reports from Sudan Ltd. In October 2000, Gadet was reported to be fighting regime regulated militia group SSUM, leading to multiple casualties. He was later surrounded by SSIM forces and forced to pull back. Despite the government’s efforts, by December, he was still deemed a “substantial threat” by the Lundin companies.
During January – March 2001, the prosecution held that the Sudanese military and Government-regulated militias (SSIM and SSUM) carried out further offensive military operations to eliminate Gadet’s forces. To protect Lundin Oil AB’s operations, the military reportedly posted 1 350 troops at the company’s rig site and operational headquarters, with further forces being deployed in and around the Block. In a Sudan Ltd. security report from the 18th of January 2001, it was stated that “The main threat is coming from the west, where Peter Gadet operates. Large forces are believed to be deployed there, and although it is not in the [Sudan Ltd.] area, [they] are there solely to ensure that Block 5A […] is secure.” The prosecution argued that this showed that the military’s presence in the Block was intended to provide security for Lundin Oil AB’s operations.
By March 2001, the situation for civilians in the area had worsened. This was recognized in an internal report made by the Canadian oil company Talisman, operating in the neighboring blocks. The report stated that “Bentiu is suffering another humanitarian crisis […]. The number of internally displaced people is so far unconfirmed but could be around 20 000.” Evidence supporting that the civilian suffering was caused by the Government’s feud with Peter Gadet was provided in an email from Sudan Ltd. security personnel, presented by the prosecution: “[…] the bombings were all in attempt to stop the fighting caused by Gadet.” It should be noted that the prosecution did not dispute that Peter Gadet and his forces also committed breaches of humanitarian law during the conflict. However, they maintained that the Government of Sudan bore the main responsibility for the civilian distress.
To show that the company was aware of the illicit nature of the Government and Government-regulated militias’ warfare, the prosecution showed an internal security report from Sudan Ltd., that referred to the previous attacks in the Block, noting that: “It is beyond reasonable doubt that there is some displacement and cleansing going on.”
Continued Cooperation Between the Lundin Companies and the Sudanese Government
The prosecution furthermore alleged that the Lundin companies were aware that a heavy military presence in the Block was necessary in order for the company to carry out its operations. In October 2000, the company expressed concern that the Government might not be able to bring in enough troops to ensure security for the construction of the all-weather road between Rubkona and Thar Jath. The prosecution quoted a report from the Lundin companies, indicating that by the spring of 2001, they were still not pleased with the security being provided, despite multiple requests for troop reinforcements: “It is concerning that troops are not being drafted into the Block to protect the road and rig site.”
However, the prosecution showed a fax message sent by Alexandre Schneiter in March 2001, seemingly indicating that the Government had at that point finally responded to the company’s demands. “The number of troops deployed in the Block was observed to have been greatly reduced early in the month, this was a serious concern which was discussed with the relevant authorities. The troop numbers in the Block significantly increased towards the end of the month. This included the additional troops requested.”
The prosecution then went on to describe the increased cooperation between the Government of Sudan and the Lundin companies. They alleged that the cooperation consisted both of Lundin Oil AB providing supplies to the military, as well as financing a Community Development programme in Government-controlled areas. In a Weekly Report from Sudan Ltd., written in October 2000, it was acknowledged that the company had agreed to provide the army with 50 tents and 10 water storage tanks, as well as other necessities. The prosecution maintained that this provisional support continued throughout 2001, displaying further internal Sudan Ltd. reports of supplies being sent to the army during the following months, up to a cost of 13 500 US dollars.
According to the prosecution, the Lundin companies also enacted a Community Development programme, in part to ensure the Government-regulated militia groups’ alliance to the Government. In a report from the company, it was stated that: “We can contribute to our own security by making sure that, as soon as the rainy season is over, we initiate as much community development as possible in Kwosh and Leer. It is imperative that the [SSIM] and [SSUM] factions remain friendly. If they switch to supporting the SPLA, Block 5A operations will cease.” In a subsequent report, presented by the prosecution, it was once again noted that: “The key for [Lundin Oil AB] must be to keep the SSIM as an ally of the company and the Government. The Community Development programme should have this underlying aim, as should political and diplomatic efforts.”
The prosecution’s account of the Community Development programme aroused some agitation from the defense. After the prosecutor had quoted a report from Sudan Ltd., Ian Lundin’s defense attorney interrupted and asked the translators to please also read the subsequent sentence in the report, which detailed the company’s effort to invest in a medical facility in Leer. This prompted the prosecution to admit that they did not dispute the fact that the Community Development programme had benefited civilians. However, they reiterated their position that the program also had a strategic aim, which was to maintain support for the Sudanese government.
Further Road Construction in the Block
Lastly, the prosecution presented an account of yet another road construction project, which they held was indicative of the close cooperation between the Government and the company. They also held that the company was aware that the project required military operations to be completed.
In February 2001, the prosecution stated that the Lundin companies had agreed to build a dry season road to Lehr. The prosecution argued that the construction of this road was heavily encouraged by the Sudanese military, quoting internal security reports which said: “The only thing of note was that [the General] was very eager for the road to Leer to be started, and stated many times that he had the troops available to protect the road.”
In May 2001, the prosecution alleged that the threat from rebel groups in the area had increased due to a newly-formed alliance between former SSDF leader Riek Machar and SPLA leader John Garang. The prosecution argued that this prompted the Government to request an upgrade of the dry season road to an all-weather road. During May 2001, the company received multiple requests from the Government to build an all-weather road, and by July 2001, the company had agreed to push forward the development of the Leer-road construction project. The prosecution quoted minutes from a meeting between the Lundin consortium partners in July 2001, where Alexandre Schneiter allegedly said: “The all-weather road to Leer has been discussed with the Government of Sudan. […] The all-weather road is now a major priority and will be built in 2002. The all-weather road is not yet of operational importance but is important for security reasons.” This ambition was later reiterated by Alexandre Schneiter at a subsequent meeting between the Lundin consortium and the Government of Sudan on the 25th of October 2001.
As noted, the prosecution held that this agreement reflected the deepened cooperation between the Government and the company. They also noted that construction of the road would require further offensive military operations by the Government, since the area the road passed through would later fall out of Government control. They noted that these attacks would be detailed during the coming days of the proceedings.
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.