Paris court to rule on activities of Holcim’s merger partner in Rojava

A Paris court will make its next ruling on Wednesday on the activities of Holcim's merger partner Lafarge in Rojava. The building materials group allegedly did business with ISIS from 2012 and 2014 to maintain factory operations in Kobanê.

The Paris Court of Appeal will issue its next ruling on Wednesday regarding the former activities of Holcim's merger partner Lafarge in Syria. The cement company is suspected of having collaborated with the terrorist group at the time of the occupation of Rojava by the jihadist militia "Islamic State" (ISIS).

The French judiciary has already been investigating the case since June 2017. The proceedings are based on a criminal complaint filed in Paris in November 2016 by eleven former employees of a cement plant in the canton of Kobanê together with the NGOs ECCHR and Sherpa against Lafarge and its subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria. According to the filing, Lafarge apparently entered into collusion with ISIS to maintain factory operations in the village of Çelebiyê (al-Jalabiyya) in southeastern Kobanê from 2012 to 2014. For example, the company allegedly purchased raw materials such as oil and pozzolan from ISIS for cement production and paid fees for passes. In total, Lafarge is said to have given around 13 million euros to various terrorist groups. 

"Complicity in crimes against humanity"

The judicial dispute on this now involves the accusation of "complicity in crimes against humanity." In 2019, the Paris Court of Appeal dropped a corresponding charge in this regard. Subsequently, ECCHR and Sherpa, among others, successfully appealed the decision. In September 2021, the Court of Cassation overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal.

Further hearing held

In September, the Court of Cassation also overturned the Court of Appeal's decision to uphold the charge of "endangering the lives of others." Both questions were referred back to the Court of Appeal, which held another hearing in late March with more than 100 joint plaintiffs - including relatives of people who died in the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in Paris. The lead plaintiff in the case is the French Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Holcim, Lafarge

The French Lafarge Group merged with Switzerland's Holcim in 2015. The group was subsequently officially called LafargeHolcim for several years. However, the name of the overall company has since been changed back to Holcim. The US judiciary is also investigating the activities of the cement manufacturer in Rojava.