Ngaralbaye, a journalist for the private weekly Notre Temps, was arrested when he answered a police summons in the capital N’djamena. He told CPJ that he was held incommunicado in a cell 12 feet by 9 feet (four by three meters) with 19 other prisoners and pressed to reveal his sources for an October 23 editorial critical of the government’s conduct of its war against rebels in eastern Chad.
The article, a copy of which CPJ obtained, alleged that the gendarmerie and the army conscripted underage youths and hastily trained them for front line combat. It said the reason for this was the refusal of members of the military close to President Idriss Deby to fight against ex-army members who have joined the rebellion.
On October 26, Defense Minister Bichara Issa Djadallah denied the allegations, but CPJ obtained copies of several articles from local papers showing photos of purported child soldiers.
On October 30, the gendarmerie issued a complaint against Ngaralbaye for defamation and undermining troop morale. Authorities provisionally released him a day later due to judicial irregularities surrounding his arrest, Justice Minister Abderamane Djasnabaye told CPJ. Defense lawyer Adolphe Bekoutou said he would file a complaint against the gendarmerie for arbitrary arrest and detention.