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article image'Air Cocaine' Frenchman due in Dominican court

By AFP     Mar 7, 2016 in Crime

A Frenchman extradited by Egypt is due to appear Tuesday before a Dominican judge for his alleged role in the escape of two pilots jailed in a drugs case dubbed "Air Cocaine."

Christophe Naudin's hearing, which was to have been held late last week, was postponed until Tuesday at 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) so that he could appear before a judge with both an attorney and a translator.

Since arriving in the Dominican Republic overnight Thursday into Friday, Naudin has been detained at the Palace of Justice.

Potential preventative measures for his detention will be examined at the hearing.

The public prosecutor has requested that the court impose "coercive measures" which could include detention from between three months to a year.

The prosecutor's office needs to formally present charges against the Frenchman before the preliminary hearing, which is due to determine whether there are enough elements for a trial.

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 kilograms (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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