A court on the French-run island of Reunion has dropped charges against a Comoran rebel leader, giving him an opportunity to apply for asylum in France.
Mohamed Bacar and 22 supporters had been charged with illegally entering French territory and importing weapons. Officials say the court withdrew the charges Saturday for technical reasons.
Authorities in Reunion say Bacar and his supporters will remain in detention while France considers their asylum request. If the request is denied, officials say the Comoran rebels will be expelled from Reunion.
Bacar led a renegade government on the Comoran island of Anjouan, but he fled Tuesday as Comoran troops and African Union forces toppled his regime. Bacar and his supporters escaped to the French-run island of Mayotte and were transferred to nearby Reunion.
Comoros has demanded that France hand over Bacar to stand trial.
France is the island nation's former colonial ruler.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.