Chad sentences 243 rebels to jail over February incursion across Libyan border

A Chadian soldier stands guard near a border crossing. An armed group opposed to Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR), is based in the desert of southern Libya. (AP/File Photo)
Updated 27 August 2019

Chad sentences 243 rebels to jail over February incursion across Libyan border

  • The insurgents had crossed 400 kilometers of Chadian territory before being halted
  • Chadian air force carried out strikes to try to repel rebels before asking France for help

N’DJAMENA: Chad has handed down jail terms to 243 rebels who crossed into the country from Libya in February before their incursion was halted by French air strikes, the government said Tuesday.
Out of “267 people who were arrested, 12 were sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison and 231 others to terms ranging from 10 to 15 years,” Justice Minister Djimet Arabi told AFP.
Twenty-four minors who had been detained were released, Arabi said.
The sentences were pronounced by a “special criminal court,” which also handed down life sentences in absentia against nearly a dozen rebel leaders living outside Chad, including their chief Timan Erdimi, he said.
An armed group opposed to Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR), is based in the desert of southern Libya.
In February, UFR fighters crossed into northeastern Chad in a column of 40 pickups before they were halted by several strikes from French warplanes based near the Chadian capital N’Djamena.
France is the former colonial power in Chad and an ally of Deby, who seized power in 1990 with French help.
French forces are stationed in Chad as part of a strategy to fight jihadism in the Sahel.
The French military said at the time of February’s incident that the Chadian air force had carried out strikes to try to repel the rebels before asking the French to intervene.
The insurgents had crossed 400 kilometers (250 miles) of Chadian territory before being halted, France said.
The Chadian army moved in after the strikes, later announcing that it had captured more than 250 people.
Arabi said the special court had convened in Koro Toro, a prison located in the desert in the north of the country.
Proceedings began on August 20, the minister said.
“The rebels were sentenced yesterday after a fair trial,” he said.


France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

Updated 19 September 2020

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

  • Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a ‘double standard’ by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members

JEDDAH: France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the EU to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“But we consider that the union should also be ready to use all the instruments at its disposal, among them one of sanctions, if the situation didn’t evolve positively,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

A European Parliament resolution has called for sanctions against Turkey unless it showed “sincere cooperation and concrete progress” in defusing tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and now analyst at Carnegie Europe, said the resolution reflected the views of a democratically elected parliament from across the bloc. “This is not ‘country X against country Y,’ it is the aggregated view of the European Parliament,” he told Arab News.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey prospecting in areas of the sea that Greece and Cyprus insist are only theirs to explore.

Turkey triggered a naval stand-off with NATO ally Greece after dispatching a warship-escorted research vessel in a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says is over its continental shelf. Greece deployed its own warship and naval patrols in response.

Greek and Turkish military officers are also holding talks at NATO headquarters to work out ways of ensuring that any standoff at sea doesn’t descend into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey’s withdrawal of its survey ship and warship escorts was a positive step, but that Greece needs to make sure Ankara is sincere.

He said a list of sanctions will be put before EU leaders at next week’s summit and whether they’ll be implemented will depend on Turkey’s actions. “I’m hoping that it won’t become necessary to reach that point,” Dendias said.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to announce sanctions on Monday against three companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan which are accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats told AFP.