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article image'Air Cocaine' smuggling trial starts in France

By AFP     Feb 18, 2019 in Crime

Two former French air force pilots went on trial in France on Monday six years after they fled the Dominican Republic following a spectacular drugs bust on a private jet in the Caribbean nation.

In what has become known as the "Air Cocaine" case, Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos are accused along with seven other defendants of trying to smuggle 680 kilogrammes (1,500 pounds) of the drug out of the country.

Dominican police found the narcotics packed into 26 suitcases onboard a Falcon 50 jet as it prepared to fly from the Dominican beach resort of Punta Cana to Saint-Tropez in the south of France in March 2013.

While out on bail, the two men managed to flee the Dominican Republic to French territory in the Caribbean in mysterious circumstances, but were re-arrested upon their return to the French mainland in November 2015.

They, along with two passengers, were found guilty in absentia and sentenced to 20 years in jail for drug-trafficking in the Dominican Republic in 2015.

All of them deny they knew that the cocaine was on board the flight.

The French court will hear scores of witnesses and experts over seven weeks and the defendants face up to 30 years in prison.

Only one suspect, Ali Bouchareb, is in detention in the case while the other eight were granted bail pending the trial.

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