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France requests transfer of aid workers sentenced in Chad 'Darfur orphans' case

[JURIST] The French Foreign Ministry Thursday formally requested [official press release, in French] that Chadian authorities transfer six French aid workers to a French prison, one day after the workers were sentenced to eight years of hard labor [JURIST report] by a Chadian court for attempting to kidnap 103 African children. The request was made under the 1976 France-Chad Agreement on Judicial Matters [PDF text], which allows for transfer of trials and sentences between the nations. Because hard labor sentences do not exist in France, the aid workers would likely serve their sentences in French prison. French Justice Minister Rachida Dati [BBC profile] now awaits a response from the Chadian government. Reuters has more.

The six, affiliated with the Zoe's Ark [advocacy website] charity, claimed that they were attempting to airlift orphaned children [JURIST news archive] from the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur to safety in Europe, but investigations revealed that most of the children were not actually orphans. Last month, Chad released three Spanish air crew and a Belgian pilot [JURIST report] held in Chad in connection with the attempted airlift. Three Chadians and one Sudanese national are also facing trial in Chad for complicity in kidnapping and fraud.

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