France’s highest court on Sept. 7 overturned a lower-court decision to dismiss charges of complicity in crimes against humanity by cement company LaFarge, which is accused of paying ISIS and other militant groups at least 13 million euros to keep its factory in northern Syria running. The ruling by the Court of Cassation marks a major setback for Lafarge, which contested its responsibility for acts committed with funds it provided to the extremists.
Lafarge, which merged in 2015 with Swiss group Holcim, acknowledged that its Syrian subsidiary paid middlemen to negotiate with armed groups to allow movement of staff and goods within the war zone. The Paris Court of Appeal in 2019 dismissed the charges related to crimes against humanity, accpeting the company’s argument that the payments were not aimed at abetting ISIS atrocities. It did allow prosecution to proceed on three other charges—financing terrorism, violating an EU embargo. and endangering the lives of others. Eleven former employees of Lafarge Cement Syria challenged the decision at the Court of Cassation.
But the Cassation Court rejected the lower court’s finding on complicity, finding that “one can be complicit in crimes against humanity even if one doesn’t have the intention of being associated with the crimes committed.”
“Knowingly paying several million dollars to an organization whose sole purpose was exclusively criminal suffices to constitute complicity, regardless of whether the party concerned was acting to pursue a commercial activity,” the ruling added. (AFP)
Photo via MEMO