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General

‘Air Cocaine’ hearing postponed

media Frenchman Christophe Naudin (C) is escorted by police on arrival in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic after being extradited by Egypt

A Dominican judge pushed back a preliminary hearing for Frenchman Christophe Naudin, who was extradited by Egypt over an alleged role in the escape of two pilots jailed in a drugs case dubbed "Air Cocaine."

The postponement until Tuesday was granted so that Naudin can appear before the judge with both an attorney and a translator. His attorney failed to appear on Saturday.

Naudin, a 53-year-old criminologist and aviation security expert who was arrested in Cairo on February 4, was sought by the Caribbean nation on suspicion of helping pilots Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos flee to France in October after they had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking.

The pair, who maintain their innocence, were arrested in March 2013 as they were about to depart from Punta Cana in a private jet found to be carrying 680 kilos (1,500 pounds) of cocaine.

Convicted of drug trafficking in August, they were released pending appeal but barred from leaving the Caribbean nation.

They somehow managed to flee and return to France -- an escape that Dominican prosecutors allege Naudin facilitated.

Fauret and Odos fled back to France vowing to clear their names, but were rearrested in November near the French city of Lyon.
On February 11, an appeals court in the Dominican Republic upheld the 20-year prison sentences for the two pilots.

Paris has ruled out extraditing them.

The affair has prompted keen interest in France, after Interpol in November issued arrest warrants for Fauret and Odos, as well as a far-right member of the European Parliament accused of involvement.
 

 
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