( AP ) - The government has asked the families of six French charity workers detained in Chad on kidnapping charges to pay for their food in prison, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
The charity workers were preparing to fly 103 children from eastern Chad to host families in Europe when they were detained and charged with kidnapping. They face up to 20 years of hard labor if convicted.
The group said the children were orphans from the conflict in Darfur, but Chadian authorities say most had parents and were from Chad.
The French army, which has troops in the central African country, paid about $4,360 to feed the six from the time they were arrested Oct. 25 until Nov. 8, Defense Ministry spokesman Patrick Chanliau said.
The army sent the bill for their food to the French consulate in Chad, and the French Foreign Ministry then sent it on to the detained charity workers' families in France, Chanliau said.
Families of prisoners in poor regions are sometimes asked to pay for their rations behind bars.