French judge frees Chad rebel chief charged with crimes against humanity

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

The presiding judge had on Monday ordered that Nouri be released under supervision, but the national anti-terrorist prosecutor contested that ruling, one source said.

A Paris appeal court on Friday backed Nouri’s release from detention, stating that the continued detention of the suspect was unnecessary for the enquiry to proceed, a second judicial source said.

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

The general has also been charged with participation in a criminal conspiracy to commit a crime against humanity.

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

Some of its forces are based in southern Libya.

Before joining the rebels, Nouri had 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 Deby in 1990.

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

Born in 1947, Nouri 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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