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Chad completes probe into 'Darfur orphan' airlift, case goes to prosecutor

[JURIST] Investigators in Chad Tuesday completed a criminal probe into French charity Zoe's Ark [advocacy website, in French; BBC backgrounder] for its involvement in an October attempt to airlift 103 alleged Darfur orphans [JURIST news archive] from Chad to Europe, and transferred the case to Chadian prosecutors. According to a Chadian court official, prosecutors will now determine whether the case should proceed on misdemeanor charges to a correctional court, as the defendants have requested, or on more serious charges to a criminal court. The official said that a decision should be made by next week.

The government of Sudan [JURIST news archive] said last week that it was planning a lawsuit against the charity, and that it also has plans to sue a French base in Chad for allegedly allowing Zoe's Ark to use its airport for the attempted airlift. Last month, Chad released three Spanish air crew and a Belgian pilot [JURIST report] held in Chad in connection with the attempted airlift. Chadian authorities also freed seven Europeans [JURIST report] in early November, including three French journalists, after French President Nicolas Sarkozy personally intervened on their behalf. Six Europeans still remain in Chadian custody. Four Chadian nationals also face criminal charges [JURIST report] over their alleged involvement in the attempted airlift, including the mayor, secretary-general, deputy governor and neighborhood chief of the Chadian border town of Tine. AFP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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