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Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

SLIDELL, La. -- A Slidell man imprisoned in an African country for more than a month is free from the criminal charges keeping him there.

Thursday, a South Sudanese judge dropped kidnapping charges against Mark McCabe. An approval signature from a Minister of Justice is the only thing standing in the way of McCabe boarding a plane home. He and his family were ecstatic.

'He sounded relieved, like finally this nightmare is over,' said wife Anne McCabe.

The nightmare started on a business trip to South Sudan in mid-October when McCabe was detained. While awaiting a Thanksgiving Day trial on what Sen. David Vitter, R-La., called an unjustified arrest, McCabe, who has a heart condition, suffered a heart attack.

Vitter then threatened the country's foreign aid from the U.S., which led to McCabe getting treatment at a clinic and later being released from custody pending the end of the trial today.

Now, with all charges dropped, the last step is home and the focus is on making sure he gets there without any more problems. Vitter is making sure that's the case.

'I personally talked to the ambassador to South Sudan today to demand that,' he said. 'I'm hopeful that's gonna happen.'

Anne McCabe said, 'He didn't have to do any of this and how do you say thank you enough and how do you ever express gratitude.'

McCabe is currently scheduled to be released to leave the country in a week, but efforts are being made to have that happen sooner.

Several fundraisers are underway to help the McCabe family recover from this ordeal, as they've been without income while incurring medical and travel costs over these last few weeks.

An account has been set up to assist the family with those bills at Chase Bank. It's called the Elton Mark McCabe Trust, opened by Peggy Bennett.

There's also a wedding dress raffle taking place to raise money for the family, in exchange for someone winning the dress. Contact 985-707-3208 for more details.

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