Chad rebel chief Mahamat Nouri been charged with participation in a criminal conspiracy to commit a crime against humanity, and placed in provisional detention, says a judicial source.
He was charged in Paris on Friday with crimes against humanity in a probe involving the recruitment of child soldiers in Chad and Sudan.
A second suspect, former rebel spokesman Abakar Tollimi, has not been charged but was given the preliminary status of “assisted witness”, which can precede a formal indictment.
The pair are suspected of having “carried out operations of forced recruitment of combatants, including minors,” in Chad and the bordering Sudanese province of Darfur between December 2005 and July 2010, according to prosecutors.
But Nouri’s lawyer, Elise Le Gall said her client rejected the allegation that there were minors among his fighters.
She said she would appeal the indictment and 72-year-old Nouri’s detention.
Nouri, the exiled leader of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), was detained at his home in western Paris on Monday.
Founded by Nouri, the UFDD is 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.