Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Chad rebel chief held in France suspected of crimes against humanity

A former minister, General Mahamat Nouri led rebels to the gates of the presidential palace

In this Saturday March 7, 2015 file photo, Nigerian special forces and Chadian troops participate with US advisors in the Flintlock exercise in Mao, Chad. AP
In this Saturday March 7, 2015 file photo, Nigerian special forces and Chadian troops participate with US advisors in the Flintlock exercise in Mao, Chad. AP

One of Chad's main rebel leaders was detained in Paris on Monday over alleged crimes against humanity committed in Sudan, his rebel group and French legal sources said.

General Mahamat Nouri, the exiled leader of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), was detained at his home in western Paris in connection with "his activities in Sudan between 2005 and 2010," a group spokesman told AFP.

Paris prosecutors confirmed his arrest along with that of two other Chadian rebels as part of an investigation opened last month into crimes against humanity and similar charges.

Sources named the two others held as Abderahman Khalifa Abdelkerim, a half-brother of Mr Nouri and former rebel spokesman Abakar Tollimi.

Patrick Baudouin, a lawyer for the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, welcomed the arrests, as "impunity has prevailed and continues to prevail for such crimes" in Sudan.

Founded by Mr Nouri, the UFDD is one of the main groups opposing Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno. Some of its forces are based in southern Libya.

Before joining the rebels, Mr Nouri served in several ministerial positions and held the position of defence minister between 2001 and 2003. He was then appointed as 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 Mr Deby in 1990.

In 2006, following Mr Deby's controversial re-election, Mr Nouri went over to the rebels, setting up base with his UFDD in Sudan, from where he launched an offensive on eastern Chad later that year which was rebuffed by the army.

He also took the lead in subsequent rebellions as part of the National Alliance which in February 2008 used Sudan as a base for launching an offensive on N'Djamena in a bid to overthrow the regime.

The rebels managed to reach the gates of the presidential palace before being repelled following violent clashes with the army, with the backing of French troops.

Later that year, he was condemned to death in absentia in Chad.

In 2010, Mr Nouri was exiled from Sudan and spent a year in Qatar before taking refuge in France. There was no immediate detail on the offences for which he was arrested on Monday.

In January 2017, Paris froze his assets for six months as well as those of fellow rebel Mahamat Mahadi Ali.

His expulsion from Sudan came just months after Khartoum and N'Djamena normalised relations following years of tension marked by mutual accusations that each side was supporting the other's rebels.

Updated: June 18, 2019 11:12 AM

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