Paris jails aid workers for adoption scheme

Group of six arrested in Chad in 2007 for trying to load 103 children they said were from Darfur on France-bound plane.

    A Paris court has sentenced two French aid workers to two years in jail for attempting to illegally bring 103 children from Chad to France for adoption, falsely claiming they were orphans from Darfur.

    Eric Breteau, who founded the Zoe's Ark charity that was involved in the failed attempt, and his partner Emilie Lelouch, were immediately detained following Tuesday's verdict. The pair were originally tried in absentia after refusing to attend court proceedings.

    Another four accused were given suspended sentences ranging from six to 12 months.

    The group was arrested in Chad in 2007 trying to load the children on to a plane bound for France, where they were to be adopted.

    They claimed the children were orphans from the war-ravaged Darfur region in neighbouring Sudan, but Chad's government accused them of kidnapping.

    It later came to be known the children were not Sudanese and most still had living relatives.

    The six were sentenced to eight years of hard labour in Chad, but were later repatriated to France and had their sentences adjusted to jail time, before finally being pardoned in March 2008 by Idriss Déby, Chad's president.

    They were tried in Paris on charges of acting illegally as an adoption intermediary, facilitating illegal entry of foreign minors and fraud with regard to families who had expected to receive the children.

    SOURCE: AFP


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