the plaintiffs’ lawyer denounces the “mechanics of denial” of the oil group

William Bourdon, lawyer for Darwin Climax Coalitions and Razom We Stand, the two NGOs that filed a complaint against TotalEnergies for “complicity in war crimes” in Ukraine denounces Friday, October 14 on franceinfo the “mechanics of denial” of the French oil group. According to him, “the more serious the crime, the more serious the ‘reputational’ stake and the more universally a mechanism of denial is set in motion which tends to discredit the action of the NGOs carrying out the procedure”.

In a press release sent to franceinfo on Friday, TotalEnergies denounces accusations “outrageous and defamatory”. At the end of August, the group had already denied the accusations of the newspaper Le Monde which had revealed that a company, Terneftegaz, co-owned 49% by TotalEnergies and 51% by the Russian Novatek was manufacturing fuel intended to supply Russian warplanes engaged in the conflict in Ukraine. A stake that TotalEnergies has since sold to Novatek. TotalEnergies also explains that the condensates produced by Terneftegaz had been “exported abroad” and therefore could not have been used by the Russian army as fuel for its planes.

“To establish accusations of complicity, two things must be demonstrated”, replies William Bourdon. “Firstly, that the targeted company provided the means to commit the offence”, he continues, considering, on this first point, that “when you are a company like TotalEnergies and you operate such a large gas field”It is “obvious”that “by definition we provide the means so that this exploitation takes place and continues”. The second thing, adds the lawyer, is that he “it is no longer necessary, in order to prove that a private actor is an accomplice, to demonstrate that he shared the intention to commit war crimes”. “It is enough to demonstrate that she could not ignore it”, he says, convinced that “no one can doubt for a moment that Total was not unaware of the final destination of this petroleum product”.

“Documentary sources clearly teach that this petroleum product passing through the Omsk refinery [en Sibérie] was used to supply the tanks of Russian planes”assures William Bourdon. “And why did TotalEnergies get rid of its participation in Terneftegaz 48 hours after the revelations of the newspaper Le Monde?”, he wonders. The lawyer mainly sees “a sign of immense embarrassment”. He accuses Total of having continued to exploit this deposit “as international sanctions multiplied, as Russia’s war crimes were documented and established in real time.”

“We consider that all of this justifies the opening of an investigation”, summarizes the lawyer of the two NGOs. Their complaint, he says, was filed “with the conviction that an investigation will be ordered, with the ambition that responsibility be established, and in the perspective that the people who would be implicated account, one day, for the offenses denounced”.

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