Chad Sentences Aid Workers to 8 Years

Release likely after French govt. intervenes in 'kidnapping' case
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2007 2:00 PM CST
This file photo taken Friday Oct. 26, 2007, in the eastern city of Abeche, Chad, and released by the Chad Presidency Press Office, , shows children playing in an orphanage at Abeche, Chad where 103...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Six French charity workers were convicted today of attempting to kidnap 103 children and send them from Chad to Europe, but a diplomatic agreement is expected to repatriate them before they begin their sentences of 8 years at hard labor, Reuters reports. The workers had testified that they believed the children were orphans from the Darfur region of Sudan, which borders Chad.

The children were Chadian, and the government of the former French colony came under heavy pressure from the public to impose tough sentences rather than appearing to favor Europeans, the BBC reports. “Our intention was to fetch orphans from Darfur," said the leader of the relief group, which maintains that local intermediaries lied about the children's identities.