Chad judiciary gives go-ahead for Zoe’s Ark pardon

Chad’s Higher Judicial Council, which advises President Idriss Déby Itno on legal matters, gave him the go-ahead on Friday to pardon six French aid workers jailed for eight years for abducting children, an official said.

The six members of the Zoe’s Ark charity were sentenced to eight years’ hard labour by Chad last year for trying to kidnap 103 African children and take them to Europe without permission from the authorities.

They were allowed to serve their prison sentences in France under a cooperation agreement.

France’s diplomatic and military support helped Déby weather a rebel assault on the capital, Ndjamena, in early February, and the Chadian leader has since made it clear he is ready to pardon the French aid workers.

”The Higher Judicial Council has given a favourable opinion on the request for a pardon,” Justice Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke, who sits on the council, said.

Zoe’s Ark said during the affair that it was rescuing orphans from Sudan’s Darfur region, a conflict zone across Chad’s eastern border, and that it intended to fly them to foster homes in Europe.

Many people in France, upset by anti-French street protests in Chad, felt the group had been misguided and irresponsible, but not malevolent. — Reuters

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