Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Chad rebel chief freed in France

Mahamat Nouri was charged with crimes against humanity last year

Former child soldiers wait in line in the war-torn region of Yambio, South Sudan, during a graduation ceremony from a programme that aims to help them reintegrate into society. AFP
Former child soldiers wait in line in the war-torn region of Yambio, South Sudan, during a graduation ceremony from a programme that aims to help them reintegrate into society. AFP

Chad rebel chief Mahamat Nouri has been freed from detention in France, where he was charged with crimes against humanity, sources told AFP on Saturday.

Nouri was charged in Paris nine months ago in an investigation into the recruitment of child soldiers in Chad and Sudan, a judicial source said.

Last Monday, the presiding judge issued an order for Nouri to be released under supervision, but the national anti-terrorist prosecutor contested the ruling.

On Friday, a Paris appeals court backed Nouri's release from detention, stating it was unnecessary to hold him for the inquiry to proceed, a judicial source said.

Nouri was also charged with participation in a criminal conspiracy to commit a crime against humanity.

He is the founder and exiled leader of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development, one of the main groups opposing Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno.

Some of its forces are in southern Libya.

Before joining the rebels, Nouri served in several ministerial positions and held the position of defence minister between 2001 and 2003.

He was named Chad's ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 2004, holding the post for two years.

He is known to be close to former president Hissene Habre, who was ousted by Deby in 1990.

A second man, former rebel spokesman Abakar Tollimi, was not charged but was designated an "assisted witness", which means a formal indictment remains a possibility.

Nouri, 73, is considered one of the most influential rebel chiefs in Chad.

In 2010, he was exiled from Sudan and spent a year in Qatar before taking refuge in France.

Updated: March 29, 2020 02:21 PM

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