- Chadian authorities remain adamant in their quest to press criminal charges against six French, three Chadian and a Sudanese refugee who are accused of attempted child kidnapping, forgery and fraud.
All the accused persons maintained their innocence, but upon conviction, they could be jailed for 20 years with hard labour.
The suspects, who include workers of the French charity Zoe's Ark, have been under Chadian government control since October when they were arrested in the eastern town of Abeche. The government had accused the of illegally smuggling 103 Chad children to France.
The suspects said they attempted to help the orhpans from the Darfur conflict.
However, the aid agencies proved that the 21 girls and 82 boys hailed from Chadian border villages and they were not orphans.
Describing it as "inhumane", the Chadian President, Idriss Deby said severe punishment awaits anybody found guilty of the crimes.
Ahmed Koulamallah, Chad's Foreign Minister questioned why people want to take advantage over Africans, claiming that to bail them out of poverty.
The abduction of 103 children in Chad's Abeche town has generated tension in France, with the government condemning and distancing itself from a crime committed by the French Zoé Ark charity.
Though the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, has succeeded in releasing the French journalists from Chad detention, his request for the Zoe's Ark workers to be tried in France fell on deaf ears.
After a Supreme Court ruling last month, the suspects were airlifted by a military helicopter to the capital N'Djamena.
The story had caused embarassment in France, with opposition parliamentarians asking the French Foreign Affairs Secretary, Rama Yade, to clarify claims that the government and the army were privy to the operation but failed to avert it.
But Yade denied such claims as "unfounded and baseless."
There were several protests over the Abeche kidnapping.
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