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article imageDominican judge denies bail to 'Air Cocaine' suspect

By AFP     Mar 10, 2016 in Crime

A judge in the Dominican Republic on Thursday denied bail to a Frenchman suspected in a cocaine smuggling case known as "Air Cocaine."

Christophe Naudin was remanded into custody for three months, with Magistrate Alejandro Vargas saying he poses a flight risk following his extradition from Egypt last week.

"We have no option but to order his detention for three months," Vargas said.

The case involves a failed attempt to smuggle 680 kilos (1,500 pounds) of cocaine in a private jet bound for France.

Naudin is suspected of helping the two French pilots, who were first arrested in the Dominican Republic in 2013, flee to France.

"To know techniques for others to flee, obviously you have to master the techniques of evasion," Vargas said.

The prosecutor had asked that Naudin -- who faces 10 to 15 years in prison if convicted -- be remanded for a year.

The Caribbean nation accuses Naudin -- a 53-year-old criminologist and aviation security expert who was arrested in Cairo on February 4 -- 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 the massive load of cocaine.

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

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

Fauret and Odos 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, though Paris has ruled out extraditing them.

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