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French aid workers convicted of taking Chadian children

Six French aid workers have been sentenced to eight years' forced labour by a court in Chad for trying to abduct children from the African country.

Six French aid workers have been sentenced toeight years' forced labour by a court in Chad for trying totake 103 children from the African country.

The six, who worked for the charity Zoe's Ark, had been accused to trying to take 103 childrento France. They were arrested on Oct. 25.

When their trial began Friday in the capital N'Djamena, their lawyers said the workers were trying to save children they believed to be orphans from Darfur, the war-torn region in Sudan that borders Chad.

But after Chadian police stopped their vehicles as they headed for an airport, investigators concluded that most of the children were from Chad and hadparents or adults who took care of them.

The workers had been charged with kidnapping and child trafficking.

Chad freed seven Europeans — three journalists and four Spanish flight crew — on Nov. 4. The journalists had been with the aid workers, and the flight crew worked on the plane that was to have flown the children to Europe.

The case led to anti-French demonstrations in Chad, and created diplomatic tensions between Chad and France.

With files from the Associated Press

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