Lafarge charges of crime against humanity dropped on appeal but others remain



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A French court on Thursday quashed charges of “complicity in crimes against humanity” pressed against French cement company Lafarge, but says other charges will be considered over payments made to Syrian armed forces.

The other charges that the Paris appeal court maintained against the company include financing a terrorist enterprise, violation of an embargo and endangering others.

Lafarge has acknowledged funneling money to Syrian armed organizations in 2013 and 2014 — allegedly including the Islamic State group — to guarantee safe passage for employees and to supply its plant in the war-torn country.

Eight officials with Lafarge were also handed charges for their alleged roles in the process.

The wrongdoing precedes Lafarge’s merger with Swiss company Holcim in 2015 to create LafargeHolcim, the world’s largest cement maker.

Christophe Ingrain, a lawyer for Lafarge, welcomed the ruling, saying the court “acknowledged that Lafarge did not take part in any complicity of crime against humanity”.

The same court ruled last month in favor of Lafarge’s request that several NGOs that had filed legal complaints against the company could no longer be considered plaintiffs in the case.

The probe was opened in October 2016 after the French Ministry of Economy and Finance filed a complaint against the group.

Since then, LafargeHolcim has said it commissioned an independent investigation that revealed that the local company provided funds to third parties to work out deals with a number of armed groups.

The company acknowledged “unacceptable individual errors” were made in Syria until its facilities in the country was evacuated in September 2014.

(AP)



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