Editors Note: Rasta Livewire did an article on this case when it occurred. Search the archives and see more. The news article below is from BBCNEWSWORLD:
Two French charity workers have been sentenced to two years in prison for illegally trying to fly 103 African children from Chad to France in 2007.
Eric Breteau, who founded Zoe’s Ark, and his colleague Emilie Lelouch had been tried in absentia but appeared in the Paris court for Tuesday’s verdict, and were immediately arrested.
Four other members of the group were given suspended sentences of between six months and a year.
Zoe’s Ark received a 100,000 euro fine.
The children were said to have been orphans from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, but turned out to be mainly from Chad and with families of their own.
In a case that shocked France, the defendants were arrested in Chad as they tried to load the children on to a plane bound for France in 2007.
They were sentenced later that year to eight years’ hard labour by a court in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, but repatriated to France after receiving a pardon from Chad’s president in March 2008.
The six defendants were charged, in France, with acting illegally as an adoption intermediary, facilitating illegal entry into France, and fraud in regard to 358 families who had expected to adopt children.
Mr Breteau and Ms Lelouch, who had been living in South Africa, refused to attend the start of the trial in early December, reportedly saying they had “no wish to give an account of themselves”.
But they appeared in court on Tuesday and were immediately detained once the verdict was announced.
The other defendants – Philippe van Winkelberg, Christophe Letien, Alain Peligat and Marie-Agnes Peleran – were given suspended sentences.