Latin America & Caribbean

Dominican Republic issues warrants over fugitive French pilots

Aymeric Chauprade, May 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption One of the three warrants is for Aymeric Chauprade, an independent right-wing member of the European parliament

A judge in the Dominican Republic has issued arrest warrants for three Frenchmen accused of helping two French pilots flee drug convictions.

One of the three, Aymeric Chauprade, is an independent right-wing member of the European parliament.

The pilots were arrested in 2013 preparing to take off in a plane carrying 26 suitcases of cocaine.

They were sentenced to 20 years but during the appeal process fled to the French Antilles and then on to France.

Private jet

Announcing the warrants for Mr Chauprade and fellow French nationals Christophe Naudin and Pierre Malinowski, Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito alleged the trio had helped organise the escape from the Dominican Republic of pilots Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos.

The pilots were convicted in Santo Domingo in August in the so-called "Air Cocaine" drug-trafficking case.

They had been arrested in March 2013 at the resort of Punta Cana on a privately hired jet carrying 680kg (1,500lb) of cocaine.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The pilots - Pascal Fauret (left) and Bruno Odos - are now under arrest in France

After their conviction they were freed under the judicial review process and barred from leaving the country.

But they reportedly escaped by boat to the French Antilles and from there by plane to France.

French media earlier said the pilots had worked previously for the French navy and had been helped by former intelligence agents.

The French government said it had nothing to do with their escape.

The pilots say they are innocent and have vowed to clear their name.

They were arrested earlier this month in Lyon but legal experts say an extradition is unlikely.

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