SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - The Dominican Republic issued arrest warrants on Monday against a member of the European Parliament and two other French nationals for helping a pair of French pilots convicted on cocaine trafficking charges flee the Caribbean nation by speedboat.
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito said warrants for people smuggling were issued against Euro MP Aymeric Chauprade, as well as Christophe Naudin and Pierre Malinowski, after the men admitted in the media their role in the escape of the pilots.
In an interview with Paris Match last month, Chauprade said he planned the escape to help “compatriots in danger.” Malinowski is an assistant of France’s veteran far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen at the European Parliament.
The pilots, Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos, were under loose house arrest at the time of the escape. They had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for possession of 1,500 pounds (700 kilos) of cocaine with intent to traffic it aboard an aircraft seized in Punta Cana International Airport in March 2013.
They denied the charges and were given some freedom of movement during an appeal against the conviction.
Dominican authorities also announced a request for a so-called Red Notice with Interpol, the international police agency, requesting help in capturing the three, Dominguez Brito said in a statement on the Attorney General’s website.
He said an investigation confirmed the presence of three French nationals in the country, and operations carried out by them, “clearly indicating how the entire strategy was set in motion ending with the exit of the two French pilots.”
French network BFM TV carried photos of the two men in a speedboat and said they went from that boat to a larger vessel, which sailed to the nearby French-governed part of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, about 730 km (450 miles) from Santo Domingo, the capital of Dominican Republic.Two other men, Alain Marc Paul Castany and Nicolas Pisapia, were also convicted in the cocaine case and are still detained in the Dominican Republic pending an appeal.
The attorney general said the Dominican Republic would seek enforcement of international agreements to ensure the “affront to the country´s justice system doesn’t go unpunished.”
Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Dan Grebler