Chad rebel chief freed in France

Mahamat Nouri was charged with crimes against humanity last year

-- AFP PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2018 --

Newly released child soldiers wait in a line for their registration during the release ceremony in Yambio, South Sudan, on February 7, 2018. More than 300 child soldiers, including 87 girls, have been released in South Sudan's war-torn region of Yambio under a programme to help reintegrate them into society, the UN said on on Februar y 7, 2018. A conflict erupted in South Sudan little more than two years after gained independence from Sudan in 2011, causing tens of thousands of deaths and uprooting nearly four million people. The integration programme in Yambio, which is located in the south of the country, aims at helping 700 child soldiers return to normal life. - 
 / AFP / Stefanie Glinski
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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.

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