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Dominican Republic issues arrest warrant for French MEP in 'Air Cocaine' case

AFP / Pierre Andrieu | Head of French far-right party Front National (FN) candidate for the European elections for Paris' area constituency Aymeric Chauprade delivers a speech during a campaign meeting, on May 18, 2014 in Paris

Dominican authorities issued an arrest warrant for three French nationals, including MEP Aymeric Chauprade, for their involvement in the escape of two French pilots sentenced to prison in a cocaine trafficking case, the prosecution announced Sunday.

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The two other French nationals being sought out by Dominican authorities are Christophe Naudin, a criminologist and specialist in aviation security, and Peter Malinowski, parliamentary assistant to Jean-Marie Le Pen, former president of France’s extreme right National Front party.

Chauprade had recently left the National Front but kept his seat at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The arrest warrant “was issued for Aymeric Chauprade, Christophe Naudin and Peter Malinowski, after the Dominican authorities presented evidence of their alleged involvement in the escape” of two French pilots, said Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito.

The three men have already admitted being involved in the escape of the two French pilots Pascal Fauret and co-pilot Bruno Odos.

The prosecutor announced the transmission by Interpol (the International Criminal Police Organization) of a “Red Notice” -- an international wanted persons alert.

“This means that if one or more of them were to leave the French territory to travel to another country, they would be arrested to face the Dominican justice system for violations of the law 137-03 regarding Illegal Trafficking of Migrants and Trade in Persons," said Dominguez Brito.

Air Cocaine

Fauret and Odos were both sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Dominican justice system for drug smuggling in the case known as “Air Cocaine”.

The pilots were arrested in March 2013 along with two other men, Nicolas Pisapia and Alain Castany, as they were about to take off from the Dominican resort of Punta Cana.

Authorities said they were preparing to leave on a mid-size Dassault Falcon 50 jet with 26 suitcases containing 680 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of cocaine.

The two pilots have denied wrongdoing, saying they did not know the private plane that they had been hired to fly was loaded with drugs.

Last October 28, the two defied a ban on leaving the Dominican Republic and secretly returned to France while on parole pending the examination of their appeal.

In early November, just days after their return, the two pilots were taken into custody by the French courts.

France has previously said that it will not extradite Fauret and Odos to the Dominican Republic but confirmed on November 19 their continued detention.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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