French pilots return home despite Dominican Republic drug sentences
Two French pilots sentenced to 20 years in jail in the Dominican Republic for cocaine trafficking have managed to get out of the country and return home, their lawyer said in Paris on Monday.
Pilot Pascal Fauret and co-pilot Bruno Odos were among four Frenchmen handed 20-year terms in Santo Domingo in August in a case dubbed "Air Cocaine" in France.
"They are in France not to flee justice but to seek justice," their lawyer Jean Reinhart told AFP.
"They are not escapees, because they were not in prison," he added, explaining that the pair were at liberty, though not authorised to leave the Dominican Republic, pending a judicial appeal.
They were arrested in March 2013 -- along with Nicolas Pisapia, a passenger on the plane they were piloting, and alleged broker Alain Castany -- as they were about to take off from the Dominican resort of Punta Cana.
Authorities said they were arrested as they were preparing to leave on a mid-size Dassault Falcon 50 jet with 26 suitcases carrying 680 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of cocaine.
Fauret and Odos "left the territory of a country where justice does not exist", said Reinhart.
"They are not trying to evade justice," he insisted, "The first thing they did upon their return was to write to the magistrate" in charge of their case in France.
All four of the men involved have declared their innocence.
Four Dominican locals have also been jailed for 5-10 years in connection with the case.
© 2015 AFP