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French judge jails French pilots in Dominican Republic cocaine scandal

media Pascal Fauret back in France at a news conference in Paris, France, 27 October 2015. Reuters/Charles Platiau/Files

The two French pilots, who fled the Dominican Republic a week ago where they were convicted of cocaine trafficking, are both in jail in Marseille this Thursday.

Pascal Fauret, 55, one of the two pilots involved in the Dominican Republic drug scandal, was jailed in the early hours of Thursday after 15 hours of preliminary hearing.

“Mr. Fauret is penalised for returning to France, that is why he is jailed tonight”, deplored his lawyer Jean Reinhart to French TV BFM and announced he will appeal the judge’s decision.

“The judicial institution has reverted to its old ways”, added Reinhart.

“We were at the investigating judge’s disposal”, said Fauret’s wife, Sabine while Reinhart said the arrest was “unnecessary” adding “it’s all for show”.

The co-pilot Bruno Odos, 56, was imprisoned 24 hours earlier and sent to Marseille prison Les Baumettes.

Fauret and Odos managed to slip out of the Dominican Republic a week ago after being sentenced to 20 years in prison for cocaine trafficking.

But no sooner arrived in France, the two men were arrested on Monday at their homes near Lyon and were then both held in custody after appearing before French magistrates in Marseille.

Fauret told reporters in Paris that he did not have any choice but to leave the Dominican Republic as “the justice system did not call for an investigation, it did not listen to us and we were sentenced to 20 years in jail because we’re French and not good Christians”.

Their escape remains partly mysterious but the men reportedly travelled by boat to the Franco-Dutch island of Saint Martin before flying to French Martinique and then on to France.

Dominican authorities arrested the two pilots in March 2013 as they were about to take off from the Punta Cana resort with 26 suitcases containing 680 kilograms of cocaine on board.

Their lawyers have argued there was no proof the men knew the drugs were on board the plane.

The Dominican Republic has issued an international arrest warrant for the two pilots although France does not extradite its own nationals.

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