- A court in France has sentenced each of the six charity workers to eight years in prison after they were convicted of kidnapping Chadian children.
Chadian court convicted the six workers of Zoë’s Ark in December. This followed the charity worker's evacuation and prosecution in France. In the absence of a hard labour in the French jurisdiction, the court therefore converted an earlier conviction into normal prison terms.
All the charity workers, including Zoë’s Ark founder, Emile Lelouch, were present in court. The court blamed the convicts for breaching the French for their "illegal confinement of minors."
Defence lawyers had earlier faulted the Chadian ruling, arguing that their clients were given unfair trial in "an undemocratic state."
They were still not satisfied with the recent ruling and vowed to file an appeal, arguing that the French court was duty-bound to repair what they called "a terrible injustice."
The court however denied any "blatant denial of justice" during the Chadian trial.
Zoë’s workers' prosecution followed their arrest and detention on 25 October in the eastern Chadian town of Abeche as they attempted to illegally airlift over a hundred children to Europe for adoption.
The group said it was merely rescuing orphans from the troubled Darfur region of Sudan. But international aid agencies later discovered that most of the children who hailed from Chadian border villagers were not orphans.
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