France investigates TotalEnergies over 2021 Mozambique attack

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French prosecutors opened an preliminary investigation against TotalEnergies after victims of a jihadist attack in Mozambique in 2021 accused the energy firm of negligence and indirect manslaughter, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said.

Insurgents attacked the port city of Palma in March 2021, killing many civilians in areas close to Mozambican LNG infrastructure projects, owned in part by TotalEnergies.

Survivors and relatives filed a complaint in October last year, saying the company had failed to ensure the safety of subcontractors.

TotalEnergies rejected the allegations at the time, saying they were “inaccurate.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer Henri Thulliez was confirming information initially reported on Saturday by Agence France-Presse.

The prosecutor’s office was not immediately available to comment.

A source close to the matter told Reuters that a preliminary investigation was opened late last year.

At the end of it, prosecutors can decide to dismiss the case, send the company to trial or order further investigations.

The plaintiffs, including three survivors and four relatives of victims who died in an ambush, alleged that TotalEnergies failed to inform subcontractors of the risks of possible attacks or of the progress of such attacks and did not have proper safety or evacuation plans in place.

TotalEnergies was not immediately available to comment.

In October it responded to the complaint by saying it did have a security plan and had carried it out.

Work on TotalEnergies’ LNG project in Mozambique has been halted since 2021.

Sources said in December that TotalEnergies planned to restart the project in the first quarter of this year but the region has seen a resurgence in deadly insurgent attacks since January.