Ruling on Lafarge's 'complicity in crimes against humanity' in Syria case postponed

Ruling on Lafarge's 'complicity in crimes against humanity' in Syria case postponed
The ruling, which would determine whether French cement giant Lafarge will be tried for complicity in crimes against humanity for its dealings in Syria, was postponed to September 7 by France’s Court of Cassation.
2 min read
16 July, 2021
French cement maker group Lafarge's Chierf Executive Officer Bruno Lafont IN 2014. [Getty]

A French court postponed on Thursday a landmark decision on whether cement giant Lafarge could be indicted for "complicity in crimes against humanity" in Syria.

The decision was postponed to September 7 by France's Court of Cassation, which did not provide further details.

Should the charges be confirmed, it would be the first time a European company faces such an investigation.

Since 2017, investigators have been looking into allegations that Lafarge paid $50 million in protection money to groups including the Islamic State group (IS) to continue operating its factory in Jalabiya, and Syria's Manbij and Raqqa, at the height of Syria’s civil war. Although Lafarge evacuated its foreign staff, Syrian employees had to keep working.

Lafarge is also accused of selling cement for IS and obtaining raw material from militants.

The company, which merged with Swiss company Holcim to become the world's largest cement maker in 2015, has admitted some wrongdoings but denies most of the allegations, including paying militant groups.

It had renamed itself LafargeHolcim until this week, when it dropped the name Lafarge and rebranded itself simply as Holcim.

In 2019, a French court dismissed an additional charge of complicity in crimes against humanity.

France’s top criminal court of appeal could now overturn that decision.

The proceedings are the result of a complaint filed by France’s Ministry of Finance, 11 former Syrian employees and two NGOs, Sherpa and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights' (ECCHR).

Today, France's highest court was expected to issue its decision in the case against French multinational Lafarge in connection to its activities in Syria between 2012 & 2014. However, the court has postponed the decision to 7 September 2021 #savethedate

— Sherpa (@Asso_Sherpa) July 15, 2021