On Tuesday, the Paris Court of Cassation examined the validity of the charges brought against the French cement company Lafarge, which stands accused of endangering Syrian employees and complicity in crimes against humanity due to its continued activities in Syria until 2014.
The company, now part of the Holcim Group, is suspected of funneling millions of euros to jihadist groups, including ISIS, and intermediaries during 2013 and 2014 through its Syrian subsidiary, Lafarge Cement Syria, to maintain operations at its cement plant in Syria’s Jalabiya region, all while the country was engulfed in war.
Lafarge retained its Syrian employees at the plant until September 2014, even as it had evacuated its foreign employees in 2012.
The cement factory was hastily evacuated in September 2014, shortly before ISIS took control of it. Subsequently, non-governmental organizations and many Syrian employees filed complaints.
As part of a judicial investigation initiated in 2017, charges were brought against the parent company, Lafarge SA, in 2018 for complicity in crimes against humanity, financing a terrorist project, and endangering the lives of others.
Since then, the company has sought to have the legal proceedings dropped, even though the Court of Cassation definitively upheld the charges of financing a terrorist project in 2021. Nevertheless, Lafarge’s defense may still hope for a suspended sentence on the other two charges, to be announced on Tuesday.