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Deby: Zoe’s Ark pardon could come ‘within a month’

Latest update : 2008-03-09

Chadian President Idriss Deby told FRANCE 24 he was ready “in principle” to pardon six French aid workers convicted for trying to fly 103 children out of Chad without permission. “The procedure is under way,” he said.

Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno told FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview that a presidential pardon was in the works for six French aid workers convicted by a Chadian court for attempting to kidnap 103 children and fly them to Europe.


Deby said a formal decision on the pardon had not been taken, but that he had accepted the idea of a pardon.


“We have not decided yet. We have judicial procedures here in Chad”, Deby told FRANCE 24 in an interview for “The Talk of Paris.”   “On the principle [of a pardon], I completely agree, I have accepted it. There is a procedure to follow, and the procedure is under way. It will take… less than a month.”



Chad sentenced members from the French charity Zoe’s Ark to eight years of hard labour in December 2007, after they were arrested while trying to fly 103 children from Chad to Europe without permission.



The prisoners were jailed in Chad but were later transferred to France, under an agreement that they would serve out their Chadian sentence in French prisons.



Who will pay the reparations?



The Chadian justice system has ordered that the families of the children be given 4 billion CFA (African francs – equivalent to 6 million euros) in compensation. Deby said the problem of compensation for the Chadian families remains to be solved. “Who is going to pay this compensation? Will it be the French government or members of Zoe’s Ark?,” he said.



Deby said the question of a pardon was not related to resolution of the compensation issue. “They are not linked,” he said, though he added that the compensation issue would have to be resolved before considering freedom for the six group members.


On Friday, Eric Woerth, France’s budget minister, said the French government is not responsible for paying the compensation to the Chadian families. “I don’t think the government has to pay this amount. It’s not a government debt.” Woerth told French media. “This does not directly concern the state.”



In the interview for “The Talk of Paris,” Deby also addressed the question of opposition leaders who went missing after a failed rebel attack on the Chadian capital in February. Read more here.

Date created : 2008-03-07