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Court finds Danish company Dan-Bunkering guilty of violating EU sanctions with supply of jet fuel to Russian military in Syria

The Court determined that Dan-Bunkering must have known it was “overwhelmingly probable” that the Russian military would use the supplied jet fuel in Syria.

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16 December 2021

BERLIN – The District Court of Odense in Denmark decided on Tuesday that a Danish company is guilty of violating EU sanctions by supplying jet fuel to the Russian military in Syria. The Court found that Dan-Bunkering made 33 sales of approximately 172,000 tonnes of jet fuel to the Russian military in Syria between 2015 and 2017. Dan-Bunkering’s parent company – Bunker Holding – and Bunker Holding CEO Keld Demant were also found guilty of aiding the final 8 of the 33 sales.

Absent from the sanctions trial was any meaningful accounting for the impacts of Russian bombing in Syria during the time in which Dan-Bunkering jet fuel was sold and delivered to the Russian military there. Syrian Archive has collected and analysed thousands of publicly available, open source videos allegedly documenting Russian airstrikes in Syria between 2015 and 2017, the impacts of which appear to include numerous civilian casualties as well as the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as public markets, water sources, medical facilities, and mosques.

Tuesday in Denmark, the majority found that “for all 33 trades [Dan Bunkering] must have realized that it was overwhelmingly probable that the jet fuel would be used by the Russian military in Syria.”

According to the U.S. State Department, in October 2015 “greater than 90% of the strikes that we’ve seen [Russia] take to date have not been against Isil or al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists…[but] against opposition groups.” In December 2015, Amnesty International reported on Russian authorities’ failure to recognize any civilian deaths from their airstrikes in Syria while alleging Russian responsibility for killing “hundreds of civilians not directly participating in hostilities and destroying or damaging hospitals and dozens of homes and other civilian objects.”

The punishments issued are lenient and unlikely to pose a deterrent. The Court fined Dan-Bunkering DKK 30 million (~4 million Euro), or approximately double the profit made. Bunker Holding was fined DKK 4 million (~540 thousand Euro), or an amount approximately equal to the profit made from the last 8 sales. Keld Demant was issued a 4-month suspended sentence, meaning he will not serve time in prison.

“Despite the guilty verdict, the trial and its outcome are disappointing,” said Hadi Al Khatib, founder of Syrian Archive. “According to the Court, Dan-Bunkering, a Danish company, must have realised where the jet fuel it was selling would be delivered and who would use it when it arrived. On the whole, this process needlessly excluded the many victims and survivors of Russian airstrikes in Syria – some of whom fled that violence to now live in Denmark under threat of forced return.”

The defendants now have 14 days to appeal this judgment. Syrian Archive will continue to monitor events in connection with the case.

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