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French court reinstates crimes against humanity probe in Lafarge Syria case

Lafarge has admitted making payments to armed groups in Syria to keep its operations there going. Ap2009

Franco-Swiss cement group Lafarge-Holcim could yet be charged with crimes against humanity over its dealings in Syria, following a ruling by France’s highest appeals court.

This content was published on September 7, 2021 - 18:24
Keystone-SDA/Reuters/jc

The company is under investigation in France for efforts to keep its cement factory in Syria going after conflict broke out in 2011. It has admitted that its Syrian subsidiary made payments to armed groups, but denies it was complicit in crimes against humanity because of its dealings with these groups, including Islamic State.

In late 2019, another court threw out that charge, but 11 former employees of Lafarge Cement Syria challenged that decision at the Court of Cassation, France’s final court of appeal, with the backing of two NGOs. That court on Tuesday reversed the decision, saying that a person or firm could be complicit by turning a blind eye to those crimes, even without actively taking part in them.

The Court of Cassation said magistrates should now re-examine Lafarge's request to have the charge thrown out, meaning the charge could yet be reinstated.

The investigation, under which Lafarge is also being probed for financing a terrorist organisation, could lead to a trial, although no date has yet been set.


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