- A court in the Chadian capital N'djamena has sentenced six French aid workers of Zoé’s Ark to eight years in prison with hard labour.
The aid workers who work for Zoé’s Ark were found guilty of attempting to kidnap 103 Chadian children, breach their civil rights and fraud in the eastern town of Abeche in October this year.
The court also ordered the six aid workers to pay US $8 million compensation to the children.
N'djamena court also sentenced a Chadian and Sudanese to four years in prison. It had earlier acquitted two other Chadian accused persons.
Eric Breteau, the head of Zoé’s Ark and Souleimane Ibrahim Adam, a Sudanese, were proven guilty of further charge of using forged documents.
The court could not be convinced by the aid workers' claim that they were evacuating refugee children orphaned by the Darfur conflict. Investigations by international agencies proved that the abducted 82 boys and 21 girls were Chadians.
The French government is reportedly asking the Chadian government to allow the convicted aid workers to serve their terms in France, although hard labour does not exist in France.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's earlier attempts to rescue the aid workers from facing criminal charges in Chad were fruitless.
Chadian authorities dismissed the case against 12 other accused persons.
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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