Sweden investigates possible links between Swedish citizens and human rights abuses in Sudan

By Malin Rising, AP
Monday, June 21, 2010

Sweden probes role of Swedes in Sudan’s fighting

STOCKHOLM — A prosecutor in Sweden launched an investigation on Monday to determine whether any Swedish citizens should be held responsible for human rights violations that occurred in Sudan between 1997 and 2003.

Prosecutor Magnus Elving said the probe is partly based on a report by activists that connected activities by the Swedish oil company Lundin Oil AB and attacks that killed thousands of Sudanese.

“There is reason to assume that crimes have been committed and that there could be a Swedish connection to such crimes,” Elvin said in a statement. He declined to provide any other details about the investigation.

The June 8 report by the activist group European Coalition on Oil in Sudan alleged that Lundin and other companies helped exacerbate the war in southern Sudan by signing an oil exploration deal with the Sudanese government for an area the regime didn’t fully control.

Lundin was the operator of a consortium of companies exploring the site. The companies included Malaysia’s Petronas Carigali Overseas, OMV (Sudan) Exploration GmbH of Austria, and the Sudanese state-owned oil company Sudapet Ltd.

From 1983 to 2005, Sudan was torn apart by a civil war between the Muslim-dominated north and Christian south. A separate conflict in Darfur began in 2003.

The report by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan, which is based in the Netherlands, said the deal between the Sudanese government and the oil companies made the previously quiet area near the oil exploration site “block 5A” in southern Sudan a focal point of the civil war.

It said attacks on civilians, arson, looting and rapes were committed by local armed groups allied with the Muslim Sudanese government and by its main opponent, the Christian Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army.

“There are grounds to investigate whether the consortium provided material support to Sudanese security agencies that were involved in gross human rights abuses,” the report said.

A spokeswoman for Lundin Oil did not immediately answer an e-mail on Monday seeking comment about the probe. But the company has previously denied breaching international law in Sudan.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a member of Lundin’s governing board in 2001-2006, told reporters in Stockholm on Monday he was not aware of Lundin Oil causing any problems in Sudan.

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