Chad To Return Convicted Kidnappers To France

Zoe's Ark members will avoid sentences of hard labor
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2007 5:56 AM CST
This file photo taken Friday Oct. 26, 2007, in the eastern city of Abeche, Chad, shows children playing in an orphanage at Abeche, Chad where 103 children were being cared for after authorities arrested...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The six French charity workers convicted in Chad of attempting to kidnap 103 children they claimed were Darfuri orphans will return to France. It's unclear whether the French justice system will reduce their 8-year sentences. The Zoe's Ark charity workers, scheduled to return on a special flight, claimed they were acting out of compassion and intended to place the children in French homes.

But most of the children were living with at least one parent or close relative, according to an investigation. The repatriation comes after France's justice minister asked the Chadian government to hand over the group. The countries have an agreement that allows criminals to serve their sentences at home. The case embarrassed France and stoked anti-French sentiment in its former colony.