Comments on the preliminary investigation into crimes under international law in Sudan

Since June 2010 district public prosecutor Magnus Elving at the office of the International Public Prosecutor in Stockholm has been conducting a preliminary investigation into crimes against international human rights in Sudan during the period 1997 to 2003.


The preliminary investigation was initiated because of amongst other things the report by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) – Unpaid Debt – which questions whether Swedish companies have in some way been accessories to crimes in southern Sudan during the relevant period.


Magnus Elving has recently been asked both what the preliminary investigation covers and what the rules and regulations look like. Now he wishes to provide the information which it is currently possible to give.



The investigation is being carried out in several stages together with investigators and analysts from the War Crimes Commission at the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation:


• A large body of documents and reports of different kinds has been assembled and analysed.

• Various individuals will be interviewed systematically and in the correct order so as to provide a structure for continued deliberations. This means that experts, witnesses and people who in different ways may have been adversely affected by criminal acts will be interviewed first.

• The entire findings will then be analysed to produce an assessment as to whether an individual or individuals with Swedish connections should be advised of reasonable grounds for suspicion of a criminal act.

• Only when the preliminary investigation is complete will it be possible to assess whether there are reasonable grounds to begin a prosecution against one or more individuals.

The investigative method is, therefore, the same as in most other criminal investigations – but the time taken is considerably longer because of the complex nature of the investigation.


Three central questions

The investigation aims to answer three central questions.

1. Is it possible to prove that the alleged crimes committed by the army and militia linked to the government against the civilian population in Block 5A took place during the period in question?

2. In this case, were individuals with Swedish connections aware of these crimes?

3. Have these individuals in any way encouraged crime through their “word or deed” – that is to say, have they, through actual measures, decisions, psychological influence or in any other way, supported the perpetrators in their decision to commit criminal acts?


The investigation takes time

“Because preliminary investigation proceedings are confidential, I cannot say more about either the results of the investigation, the documentation that has been acquired, the individuals who have been interviewed or the degree of suspicion now obtaining. My preliminary assessment remains the same – the investigation will take a long time and it will, in my view, take the time it requires. It is a question of patience,” says public prosecutor Magnus Elving


No further information about the case can be provided at present.


original Swedish article: