France will not extradite two French pilots to the Dominican Republic, government spokesman Stéphane Le Foll said Wednesday, referring to the pair who fled the island nation by boat to escape a conviction for alleged cocaine smuggling.
“France will apply the rule of law,” Le Foll told RTL radio in response to a request by the Dominican government for the men to be sent back to the Carribbean nation. “We do not extradite French citizens once they are on home soil.”
“There is an ongoing investigation given the allegations,” he added. “Justice will be done.”
Pascal Fauret, 55, and co-pilot Bruno Odos, 56, were among four Frenchmen handed 20-year terms in Santo Domingo in August following their March 2013 arrest for allegedly trying to smuggle 26 suitcases of cocaine out of the Dominican Republic
But on Tuesday they were back with their families in France after travelling by boat from the Caribbean nation to the Franco-Dutch island of Saint Martin before flying to Martinique and then on to France.
Fauret, who like Odos has protested his innocence, said at a press conference in Paris organised by their lawyers that he felt they had no choice but to leave the Dominican Republic.
“The justice system did not open an investigation, it did not listen to us and we were sentenced to 20 years in jail just because we’re French and not good Christians,” he said.
“I’m sorry, but my first instinct was to return to my country where I could speak before a functional justice system and try to go back to a normal life.”
Their lawyer Jean Reinhart insisted the men had not “fled” the Dominican Republic.
Seeking justice in France
“They are not trying to evade justice,” he insisted. “The first thing they did upon their return was to write to the magistrate” in charge of their case in France.
“They are not escapees, because they were not in prison,” he added, explaining that the pair were not being held in detention, though they were also not authorised to leave the Dominican Republic pending a judicial appeal.
Exactly how they managed to leave the Dominican Republic remains shrouded in mystery.
BFM television reported that they fled by boat to the French Antilles and then flew to Paris from there, aided by former intelligence agents and an unnamed French politician.
Eric Dupond-Moretti, a high-profile lawyer who is defending the pilots, said he could not give details of their journey because “it was not done alone, there were other people involved”.
But he said the men had left of their own accord, telling the press conference: “It’s no use imagining that a team of spooks was paid by the French state to facilitate this escape. That’s not it at all.”
The foreign ministry said the men had received no help from the French state in leaving the Dominican Republic.
26 suitcases of 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.
All four, who were in custody for 15 months while their case was being heard, say they are innocent. Pisapia and Castany are still in the Dominican Republic.
At their trial, defence lawyers argued there was no proof the men knew the drugs were on the plane.
Four Dominican locals have also been jailed for sentences ranging between five and 10 years in connection with the case.
Jean Reinhart, the French lawyer of Pascal And Bruno, confirms on BFM-TV that they are back in France
Tonight, October 26, 2015, Jean Reinhart , their lawyer, has confirmed that Pascal and Bruno have returned to France to demand justice in their home country. He stated that the first person that they chose to inform of their return was the French Examining Judge in charge of the French side of the investigation. Pascal and Bruno have indicated that they were putting themselves at her disposal. They informed next the French Foreign Ministry.
“They are happy to be here, we should rejoice that French citizens are coming back home.” Jean Reinhart said that he learned of their return on Sunday after a call from Pascal Fauret. It is not an escape ,he said: “We are just in a situation, where one chooses to face true justice and the justice of one’s home country, it is true justice, not that of the Dominican Republic that was chaotic. “They were convicted because they were French, in a case like that one just goes,” According to Mr. Reinhart, there is no extradition possible. “France does not extradite its nationals,” he confirms. “They need to see doctors, he insists. They have teeth problems, they have back problems, osteoarthritis, their bodies have deteriorated.”
The conditions of their return are not confirmed yet. The French authorities have not commented.
They are reported to be with their families.
Judicial Process Discredited – Prosecutor Guzzman placed under investigation
Diplomatic sources have confirmed that Prosecutor Guzzman, who pushed for the conviction of Pascal and Bruno, is now being investigated for fraud and corruption. This follows the firing of General Rosado Mateo, 3 months after the assault on the Falcon. Press reports indicate that he is wanted for extradition in the USA and Spain for drug trafficking. The deputy of General Rosado Mateo, Colonel Liriano Sanchez, involved as well in the raid on the Falcon, just spent one year in jail in connection with a drug trafficking and murder case.
Last week, the defence lawyers of Pascal and Bruno, filed a detailed appeal listing a litany of rights violations, which took place during the court proceedings.
Meeting with the president of the French Republic on 20/08/2015
To the President of the French Republic
We wish to draw your attention to the case of Bruno Odos and his colleague Pascal Fauret, pilots arrested on march 20, 2013 in Punta Cana, unfairly sentenced to 20 years in jail by a court of the Dominican republic, just for doing their job.
Since more than two years, we tried everything to ensure a fair trial.
Today, we are witnessing, powerless, this mockery of justice.
Our very last hope to see them again, is that you intervene towards the political establishment of this country in order to allow them to be reunited with their families.
Since the sentence, we have been waiting to meet with your Foreign Affairs Minister, mister Laurent Fabius, so as to submit him our plea.
Mister President, help us to ensure their safe return to France and, please, accept our since gratitude
On August 19, 2015, Sassenage
On behalf of their spouses, children, parents, brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews and friends.
Interview given on August 82015 , for the radio channel ” France Info” by Me Jean Reinhart, French lawyer of Pascal and Bruno.
THE INDICTMENT OF THE PROSECUTOR OR A DELIRIOUS DIATRIBRE
The prosecutor submitted his indictment last Friday. Unsurprisingly, it could be said, he requested 20 years in jail – the maximum possible sentence – for the 4 French nationals and one Dominican citizen, dropping along the way the charges against 7 indicted «due to lack of evidence» and de facto discharging another accused, whom he made a deal with to gain a confession charging the French Nationals. The prosecutor acknowledged that deal.
In short: convictions requested for the 4 French nationals, one Dominican « network boss » (without network…), a Dominican civilian and a « repentant », whose choice was between 20 years in jail or to lie for the benefit of the prosecution … Where have the 54 accused of the «enormous network of drug traffickers», revealed by the prosecution in August 2013, gone ??
This indictment, as revolting and unbelievable as it may be in the wake of court proceedings gone catastrophically wrong for the prosecution, is unfortunately not a surprise: despite the total absence of evidence incriminating Pascal and Bruno (as if we were any !), the prosecutor resorted to the most vulgar stratagems as part of an unscrupulous rhetoric. Indeed it was all about delivering false truths without blinking, failing to characterized the charges laid against the accused, denying the obvious to propagate a story, whose versions never ceased to change since April 2013, all this in order to hide the terrible emptiness of the prosecution’s case.
So as to better understand what happened – too long a story to write here – I encourage you to visit the blog (http://retour-pascal-bruno.com) and to view the last 3 videos of Pascal and Bruno, which were posted this morning. You can also listen to the interview given to France Info by MR Jean Reinhart, French lawyer of Pascal and Bruno, who, in a beautiful synthesis, comes back on all the elements of this case.
We do not feel despondent, quite the contrary ! The counter arguments by the Defence lawyers will begin on Wednesday, the sentence is expected on Thursday 13, and it will be positive. Otherwise it will amount to a war declaration, which the diplomatic corps shall have to take part in, for one will have to explain how Pascal et Bruno could possibly be convicted.
But I refuse to believe in that possibility: I believe in the capacity of the Dominican Justice System to avoid being influenced by the gesticulations of a man out of his depth and obsessed by a trial, which he may have thought would be the pinnacle of his career, to such an extent to make it personal.
The rule of law is not an empty word, and it is never the business of one man only.
Président of the ASPB
Entretien Skype avec Pascal et Bruno – 8 août 2015
Entretien Skype avec Bruno – 26 juillet 2015
End of the Testimonies (July 26, 2015)
That’s it : Christophe Naudin and myself have at last been able to complete our testimonies on Friday around midday, which constitutes an important step forward in the court proceedings.
The exercise is neither a pleasant, nor an easy one, but it was necessary: we were able to open all the items that the prosecutor wanted to avoid (commercial flight, responsibility of the airport authorities for the security measures regarding the bags, non-liability of the pilots for the contents of the bags…).
The Court gave its full attention to those inputs at a time, when, as I was saying earlier, the case of the prosecution is undermined from every direction, including from the witnesses summoned by the Public Prosecutor himself in support of the accusation.
To summarise to this day:
- not a shred of evidence, which could incriminate Pascal et Bruno in any foul play regarding the handling of those suitcases,
- the commercial nature of flight is no longer in doubt,
- it has been established that the handling contract with the SWISSPORT branch in Punta Cana (used also by Air France) mentioned explicitly that the security checks had to be performed by this company (The payment receipt moreover also mentions “Commercial Flight”),
- the Court was reminded of the international regulation on this matter, supported by recent examples , which clearly show that the crew is never held liable for the content of the bags.
The lawyers of Pascal and Bruno are very satisfied with the way the proceedings are going and are not hiding anymore their optimism.
There remains only to hear three witnesses called in support of Dominicans indicted, who are expected to highlight the corruption issues plaguing the hierarchy of the Dominican Drug Enforcement Administration (DNCD), before the start of the Prosecutor’s indictment and of the counter-arguments of the Defence lawyers .
We should therefore hear about the Court’s decision in mid-August, and even though it is premature to rejoice, one hardly sees on which basis the Court could convict Pascal and Bruno.
Once more, thank you all for your unfailing support, we hope that a page will soon be turned: It is only on the 856th day, and for the first time, that Pascal and Bruno have been able to have the arguments of their defence heard.
This 28 months fight, which – it suffices to say – was not won in advance, and could not have been envisaged without the solidarity and the generosity of all of you, members of the support committee for Pascal FAURET and Bruno ODOS.
kind regards to all,
President of the ASPB
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The Defence Testimonies, at last ! (July 24, 2015)
I can now give you some news regarding the Court proceedings.
Christophe Naudin and myself arrived on Saturday evening, with in theory, the possibility to testify as early as Monday 20.
In reality, as it is now customary, the prosecutor is dragging in length the presentation of his last witnesses, giving – in the words of the local lawyers – a pitiful image of the Public Prosecution: among the last 6 witnesses, who have appeared since Monday and that he summoned himself, he had 3 of them declared « hostile » because they refused to narrate a story they had not witnessed.
During a particularly unpleasant moment, yesterday, he pushed into tears a woman working at SWISSPORT because she never agreed to tell anything other than what she actually saw: that is , that everything took place normally until the intervention of Dominican Drug Enforcement Administration on the plane and that the flight was a commercial flight (Incredible for a prosecution witness!).
Today, at last, the turn arrived for Christophe Naudin to speak. He entered the Court room at 21h French time, to leave it at 23h30: the prosecutor objected to every question he was asked to by the lawyers of Pascal and Bruno, and to every Christophe’s answer (each time, on the first word uttered by him…), and every time those objections were rejected by the Court.
One undoubtedly makes progress, but very slowly, since it takes 20 minutes for the witness to complete each sentence! Eventually the session was suspended till the following day on this comment from the President of the Court : “One cannot continue with this sterile game”… We hope so too.
We are not sure anymore to complete our testimonies tomorrow, however it is a certainty that our statements are a real worry for the prosecutor. It is does not come as a surprise, for one can tell all kind of stories at the corner of a bar, or worse – in prosecutor Milciades Guzman’s version – at the Bar, nevertheless the facts and international regulations remain stubborn. The Experts Report commissioned by the French Judicial System, and published on April 30, does not say anything less : commercial flight, not the mandate of the pilots to check the content of the bags of the passengers, regular procedures applied from the start to the end…
In short, between the defection of the prosecution witnesses and the prospect of our testimonies, the position of Pascal and Bruno has never been so strong. One needs to be patient and to remain phlegmatic in the face of the ceaseless provocations of the prosecutor, who has given the impression for the last two weeks to be sinking with his “case”.
Kind regards to all,
President of the ASPB
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Entretiens Skype avec Pascal et Bruno – 18 juillet 2015
June 19, to July 13
April 20, 2015, on the request of the Court, all parties including the Public Prosecution, had committed to organise the sequencing of the summons and hearings of their witnesses.
June 19, 2015, the Court was hearing, for the third and last time, General Valentin Rolando Vicioso, the second prosecution witness, whose testimony followed the appearance of General Rolando Rosado Mateo. According to the calendar established on June 12, the next hearing, scheduled for Castillo Diaz.
June 30, 2015, the Public Prosecution and its witness were both absent. As one Defence lawyer was also missing, that around 10am two indicted were still on their way to the Court and that, moreover the court was not constituted since one of the judges was replaced, without surprise, the proceedings were suspended until the next date scheduled on the calendar : Monday, July 06.
July 06, 2015, that yesterday Monday, Prosecutor Milciades Guzman Leonardo, now the only and exclusive incarnation of the Public Prosecution, is here.
He is alone, his third witness is missing, the following ones too…
- For the latter, who are six under-cover agents, Prosecutor Guzman requests the Court to subpoena their appearance as he suddenly fears that they may well not appear of their own accord.
- He also ask the Court to suspend once more the hearing to accommodate the availability of the very busy Senor Fiscal Carlos Castillo Diaz , who only benefited from a sixteen days prior notice to organise himself.
Faced with the inability of the Public Prosecution to meet its commitments, and in order to avoid any bias, the responsibility for managing the witnesses is taken away from the parties. The Court will from now directly ensure that they are summoned.
To take into account the time needed to action this, the proceedings are again suspended until Monday July 13.
Without surprise, as he got us accustomed to, on numerous occasions since March 22, 2013, the inconsequential representative of the Public Prosecution is thwarting the orderly progress of the trial that the Court attempts nevertheless with utmost application, to render fluid and manageable for everybody.
And thus are wasted, four days of hearing and nearly another month.
Pascal et Bruno
Entretiens Skype avec Pascal & Bruno avant la reprise du procès
Pascal et Bruno, le 21 juin 2015
Pascal et Bruno, le 12 juin 2015
Pascal, le 6 juin 2015
Bruno, le 6 juin 2015
Bruno, le 3 juin 2015
800 days, the end … almost
by Pascal Fauret
800th day, the end … almost
Today May 29, 2015 in Santo-Domingo, the fifth attempt to begin the trial took place. .
As we felt last year, on September 22 and December 1st, and also this year on March 9 and April 20, we feel tense, impatient and determined, in one word : ready.
Motivated as always, having been able, not without difficulty once more, to reorganise their professional commitments to be available, our witnesses and experts are here, ready too.
10h25, The President and the two assistant judges make their entry, and … it begins !
I mean, this time, it really begins !
Therefore, even if what follows won’t be a piece of cake, one can only rejoice : we are making progress.
11h00, two out of the sixteen prosecution witnesses make a timid appearance, on time or just about.
The remaining others are absent and unreachable.
11h20, the Prosecutor begins reading the Bill of Indictment. He exceeds somewhat the scope fixed by the conclusions of the judge of the preliminary hearing, but at 11h30. He is done. Ten minutes for fourteen indicted! .
In spite of its briefness, if there are difficult moments in the life of a man, surely this is one of them.
For all it is worth, unsurprisingly for it has been the case for the last two years, we still do not know what are the charges laid against us. It is a package indictment, with neither detailing nor individualisation of the charges. Thus one could summarise: “All guilty, let’s lock up the whole lot!” .
It is true, that when one puts it that way, it does not take ten minutes !
The session is suspended, the lawyer of a Dominican serviceman is missing and pleading in another court. Until now quite aptly represented by one of his colleagues, his presence is now considered vital before an incident happens… Twenty minutes later, the session resumes. The lawyer in question has not arrived, the Court decides to suspend again the proceedings. They will resume… next week, on Friday, June 5.
They will progress according to a calendar, which is immediately provided. Based on its details, we can note that by Friday, June 19 at the latest, all should be finished.
Despite the immense frustration of having taken only one step forward, we acknowledge that the proceedings have begun and that their conclusion has now be set in time; a deadline.
At each stage that we encountered, you were many to encourage us with words of “Hold on guys, the finishing line is in sight!” well today, it is my turn to tell you: ” The finishing line is in sight!”
And if we are still holding, we know very well we owe it to you. So my friends, thanks to you all.
COMMUNICATE DIRECTELY WITH PASCAL AND BRUNO
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