- The criminal trial of 10 people accused of attempting or conspiring to illegally evacuate the 103 Chadian children to Europe will begin on 21 December, Chadian judiciary officials confirmed.
The six French nationals, three Chadians and a Sudanese, who worked with a French charity, Zoe's Ark, will answer to the criminal charges in the capital N'Djamena.
The French President's attempts to rescue his country's nationals from facing charges of kidnapping minors with intent to compromise their civil status, forgery of public deeds in Chad bore nought.
Nicolas Sarkozy had earlier secured the release of French journalists caught in the Abeche crime and preferred the six charity workers to be tried in France.
The three Chadians and a Sudanese nationals have been charged with complicity. The French defendants had reportedly gone on a hunger strike in protest against the charges. All the defendant insited their innocence, arguing that they intended to bail out the orphans from the conflict in the oubled Sudanese region of Darfur.
However, investigations by international agencies proved that the abducted children were neither orphans, nor Sudanese. The 82 boys and 21 girls hailed from Chadian villages along the Sudanese border.
Chadian authorities dismissed the case against 12 other accused persons.
Unconfirmed judicial leaks said the trial will be fast-tracked. It might last for only a week or so. If proven guilty, the defendants could be jailed for 20 years with hard labour.
The Abeche abduction has caused widespread anger and protest among Chadians of all walks of life. It has also caused unlimited embarassment in France where the government had distanced itself from the crime, although the opposition insisted it was privy to the act.
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