French firm, Lafarge, charged with complicity in Syria crimes against humanity
The French cement firm, Lafarge, is suspected of paying nearly €13 million to Isis terrorists and various other militant and terrorist groups in Syria.
The French cement giant Lafarge was charged on Thursday with complicity in crimes against humanity and financing terrorists, for allegedly paying millions to Takfiri terrorists, including the ISIS terror group, (also known as Daesh terrorists ) to keep a factory open in war-torn Syria.
The company, whose Syrian subsidiary paid the armed groups through intermediaries, has also been charged with endangering the lives of former employees at the cement plant in Jalabiya, in northern Syria.
Lafarge, which has since merged with Swiss firm Holcim, immediately said it would appeal against the charges.
The French rights group Sherpa, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said it was the first time that a parent company anywhere in the world had been charged with complicity in crimes against humanity.
The allegations are the most serious against a French company in years.
A panel of three judges in Paris ordered Lafarge to hand over € 30 million to authorities as a security deposit ahead of the trial.
Eight former executives, including the former chief executive Bruno Lafont, have already been charged with financing a terrorist group and/or endangering the lives of others over Lafarge’s activities in Syria between 2011 and 2015.
Lafarge is suspected of paying nearly €13 million to ISIS terrorists and other militant groups to keep the Jalabiya plant running long after other French companies had pulled out of Syria.
The payments by the Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) subsidiary were considered a “tax” in exchange for which militants allowed free movement of the company’s staff and goods inside the war zone, according to investigators.
It is claimed that some of the cash was also used to buy petrol and other raw materials from suppliers close to ISIS terrorists. French investigators also suspected that Lafarge sold cement to ISIS (also known as Daesh ) terrorists.
The Sherpa rights group hailed the decision to charge the company, saying it was “a decisive step in the fight against the impunity of multinationals operating in armed conflict zones”.
It had launched the legal case against Lafarge alongside the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and 11 former employees.
Several companies have previously faced allegations of complicity in crimes against humanity, though usually the cases have been dropped.
For example, twelve Nigerians took the Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell to court in the US over allegations of torture and other human rights abuses in the Niger delta in the 1990s, but the U.S. supreme court blocked the case in 2013.