Sarkozy mercy dash to free flight attendants

5th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

5 November 2007, MADRID - flight attendants released after sudden Sarkozy appearance in N'Djamena

5 November 2007

MADRID -  flight attendants released after sudden Sarkozy appearance in N'Djamena

A judge in Chad yesterday released four of the seven Spaniards arrested last week in the Central African country on charges of being accessories to a child abduction and fraud scam involving the French NGO Zoe's Ark.

Their release, together with that of three French journalists who also formed part of the group of 17 Europeans jailed in Chad, coincided with a short, surprise visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the Chadian capital to intervene on behalf of the Europeans.

Indeed, the four female Spanish flight attendants, members of the crew of the plane that was meant to airlift over 100 alleged orphans from Chad, were flown to Spain in President Sarkozy's plane. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, meanwhile, greeted them upon their arrival at Madrid's Torrejón air base last night.

A further three male members of the Spanish crew remain jailed in N'Djamena alongside one other crew member from Belgium and six French representatives of Zoe's Ark. The three men, also charged as accessories, are expected to continue testifying today before the judge.

Despite claims from Chadian President Idriss Déby defending the "freedom and independence" of Chad's judiciary, the liberation of the seven Europeans on Sunday has been widely viewed as a great diplomatic victory and a show of post-colonial might by the French leader.

France, the former colonial power in Chad, has troops stationed in the central African country and will provide about half of the 3,000 EU forces expected to be deployed in the country's troubled eastern region in coming weeks.


Subject: Spanish news

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL.]

Subject: Spanish news

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