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France court sentences 'Darfur orphan' airlift workers

[JURIST] A French criminal court on Monday sentenced six French aid workers, convicted in Chad for attempting to kidnap [JURIST reports] 103 African children, to eight years in French prison, agreeing with French prosecutors' recommendations [JURIST report] to convert their sentences handed down by a court in Chad. The six were originally sentenced to eight years of hard labor in Chad, but were returned to France [JURIST reports] in late December 2007 after a formal request from the French Foreign Ministry under the 1976 France-Chad Agreement on Judicial Matters [PDF text]. The French criminal court did not retry the case, and lawyers representing the six have said they will appeal the sentence.

The aid workers, affiliated with Zoe's Ark [advocacy website], claimed they were attempting to airlift orphaned children [JURIST news archive] from the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, but investigations revealed that most of the children were not Sudanese or orphans. In January, another aid worker was charged [JURIST report] in French court with conspiring to allow illegal residents into the country in connection with the foiled airlift. AP has more.

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