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French cement company Lafarge gets off on human rights charges

A general view of the Lafarge plant in Jalabiya, northern Syria.Delil souleiman / AFP

The French appeals court has cleared the cement maker Lafarge on charges of crimes against humanity connected with the company’s activities in Syria. But other allegations, including alleged financial support for a terrorist organisation, remain to be answered.

The outstanding charges against Lafarge include endangering human life and breaking an international embargo.

The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights has already announced its decision to appeal against the decision to drop the human rights charges against Lafarge.

According to company lawyers, the court decision reversed a completely unfounded allegation, the legal team stressing that Lafarge had never been involved, in any way, in crimes against humanity.

The company has issued a statement acknowledging the decision, and repeating its expressioin of regret for “unacceptable errors committed in Syria”.

The case was based on the fact that the Lafarge plant in Jalabiya, northern Syria, continued to function in 2013-14, when the surrounding area was under the control of the Islamic State terrorist group.

It was alleged that Lafarge had paid illegal armed orgaisations to ensure the continued operation of that plant.

Lafarge now trades as LafargeHolcim following the 2015 merger of the French company with the Swiss Holcim.

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