France sought Saturday to extradite the renegade leader of the Comores Colonel Mohammed Bacar. ( dpa )
Bacar fled to a neighbouring French island of Mayotte after he was overthrown on the Comoran island of Anjouan by African forces earlier this week.
French authorities moved him to the neighbouring French-controlled Indian Ocean island of Reunion where he was charged with illegal entry into Mayotte and weapons possession.
But on Saturday, a court dismissed the charges and ruled that Bacar and his co-accused be freed.
Comorans immigrants on Reunion protested the court ruling, accusing France of complicity with Bacar. Thousands of Comorans had already blocked roads and rioted on Mayotte, demanding that Bacar be handed over for trial.
With the independence of the Comores from France in 1975, the inhabitants of Mayotte had voted in two referendums for affiliation to France.