Bildt Under Fire for Lundin Oil Link

In an unprecedented move, a Swedish public prosecutor opened a case investigating a potential Swedish connection to human rights abusesin the Sudan.

A report earlier this year from the NGO group - European Coalition on Oil in the Sudan - claimed that Swedish company, Lundin Oil, was linked to the massacre of 10,000 civilians and the forced removal of thousands more in the Sudan between 1997 and 2003.

Professor of International Law, Ove Bring, told Radio Sweden that it’s extremely unusual for a prosecutor to investigate Swedish involvement in human rights abuses overseas.

“It’s probably the first time it’s happened,” he told Radio Sweden.

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Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who was a member of the board of Lundin Oil from 2001 to 2006, may also come under investigation.

However Bildt - who previously served as UN High Representative in Bosnia in the 90s, says the charges have nothing to do with him and that during the period in question he was a “travelling salesman in peace and business”.

Sweden’s opposition parties have called for him to take a “time out” or step down during the investigation.

The foreign minister replied that the legal system should not be politicised in the run up to this September’s general election.

“I would ask the gentlemen to calm down a bit and look at what this is really about. We are in an election period and should not allow the work of our legal institutions to be politicised or vulgarized,” he said.

The controversy is nothing new to Bildt, says Professor Ove Bring, also a former legal advisor at the Swedish foreign ministry.

“Carl Bildt has gone through all these media discussions about his place on the board of Lundin Oil when he started out as foreign minister in 2006.”