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Chad junta leader pardons 110 people held over October protests

Mahamat Idriss Deby raises his hand as he is sworn in as Chad's transitional president, in N’Djamena on October 10, 2022.   -  
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Chadian leader General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno has pardoned 110 more people sentenced to jail terms following deadly protests against the regime last October.

Demonstrations against the extension of Deby’s transitional rule broke out last October in the capital N’Djamena and several other towns.

Deby was proclaimed head of state by the army in April 2021 after the death of his father, Idriss Deby Itno, who was killed during anti-rebel operations after ruling for 30 years.

“Persons tried and sentenced for acts of unauthorised assembly, intentional assault and battery, arson, (and) destruction of property… following the events of October 20… benefit from a presidential pardon,” read the decree, signed by Deby.

More than 600 young men, including at least 80 minors, were arrested in N’Djamena on October 20 and in the following days, and then sent to a prison in the desert town of Koro Toro more than 600 kilometres (370 miles) away.

After months of detention, they were tried without legal representation.

More than half were sentenced to prison terms, while the others were given suspended sentences or released.

Local and international rights groups claimed that dozens or even hundreds of people were tortured or executed on the way to Koro Toro, a claim denied by the authorities.

Mahamat El-Hadj Abba Nana, public prosecutor at the N’Djamena Court of Appeal, told AFP that the 110 people pardoned had been tried and sentenced to between 18 months and five years in prison in Koro Toro, N’Djamena and Moundou, the country’s second-largest city.

A total of 436 people convicted of taking part in last October’s protests have now been pardoned by Chadian authorities in less than four months.

At the end of March, 259 demonstrators sentenced to prison terms were pardoned under a similar decree, followed by a second wave of 67 people in May.

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