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Convicted 'Air Cocaine' pilots flee to France

media French pilots Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos AFP PHOTO/Erika Santelices

Two French pilots sentenced to 20 years in jail for drug trafficking, in a case dubbed 'Air Cocaine', have fled the Dominican Republic. Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos returned home to seek justice and medical care, their lawyer said in Paris on Monday.

Their lawyer Jean Reinhart said the pair had been banned from leaving the Dominican Republic, pending a judicial appeal. According to reports, the pilots fled by boat and headed to the Franco-Dutch island of Saint Martin, before boarding a flight from Martinique to France.

Fauret and Odos were among four Frenchmen handed 20-year sentences in Santo Domingo in August. They were arrested in March 2013 along with Nicolas Pisapsia, a passenger on the plane they were piloting, and alleged broker Alain Castany. The group was about to take off from the Caribbean resort of Punta Cana aboard a Dassault Falcon 50 jet with 26 suitcases carrying 680 kilograms of cocaine.

After fifteen months of detention, they were released in June 2014. But in August this year, a court found them guilty of illegal drug possession. The Frenchmen have consistently protested their innocence and say they did not know the drugs were on the plane.

Reinhart says the pilots left the Dominican Republic in search of justice, and that they had already written to the magistrate in charge of their case in France. They are currently in hiding in the Lyon region, according to their lawyer.

Of the 10 Dominicans charged with complicity in the case, six were acquitted and four others given sentences ranging from five to 10 years in prison.

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