Two jailed over Chad adoptions
Two former French charity workers convicted in Chad of abducting children only to be later pardoned were sentenced to jail in Paris yesterday for defrauding the French families who had hoped to adopt the youngsters.
Zoe’s Ark, a non-profit group, was accused of trying to illegally fly 103 children out of Chad to France and six of its members were convicted and jailed in 2007 in a case that sparked angry protests in the central African country.
The six, including the charity’s president Eric Breteau and his companion Emilie Lelouch, were returned to France to serve their sentences, but were freed in 2008 after being pardoned by Chad’s president Idriss Deby.
Four of the six went on trial in Paris in December, alongside a journalist and a doctor, accused of fraud, acting as unauthorised intermediaries in an adoption and aiding foreign minors to stay illegally in France. Breteau and Lelouch were sentenced to two years while the others received suspended jail sentences.
“ could not have been unaware that their project was illegal. They blatantly lied to the families,” the Paris court said in its judgment.
About 30 potential foster parents who had paid to adopt through Zoe’s Ark were civil parties in the Paris trial.
The charity’s members had testified in Chad that they believed they had been rescuing orphans from Sudan’s conflict-ridden Darfur region, which borders Chad.– (Reuters)