'Air Cocaine' suspect should be denied bail: Dominican Republic

Frenchman Christophe Naudin (C) is escorted upon arriving in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on March 4, 2016 (AFP Photo/Erika Santelices)

Santo Domingo (AFP) - A Frenchman suspected in a cocaine smuggling case in the Dominican Republic should not be freed on bail because he poses a serious flight risk, the attorney general said Tuesday.

The official spoke a few hours before Christophe Naudin, extradited from Egypt last week, appeared in court to have charges read out against him in a case known as "Air Cocaine."

Naudin will now learn on Thursday if he is to be granted bail after the defense requested time to review a file.

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.

"I hope the courts understand that there is a serious flight risk. Mr. Naudin must not be freed," Attorney General Francisco Dominguez said.

Since arriving in the Dominican Republic overnight Thursday into Friday, Naudin has been detained at the Palace of Justice.

Naudin, a 53-year-old criminologist and aviation security expert who was arrested in Cairo on February 4, was sought by the Caribbean nation on suspicion 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 big cocaine cargo.

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

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

Fauret and Odos fled back to France vowing to clear their names, but 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.

Paris has ruled out extraditing them.

The affair has prompted keen interest in France, after Interpol in November issued arrest warrants for Fauret and Odos, as well as a far-right member of the European Parliament accused of involvement.