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31st Oct 2020

French MEP charged in 'Air Cocaine' case

  • MEP Aymeric Chauprade is charged for helping two Frenchmen escape from a Dominican prison (Photo: European Parliament)

French far-right MEP Aymeric Chauprade was put under an arrest warrant by the Dominican Republic on Monday (23 November) over his role in what has been dubbed the "Air Cocaine affair" by French media.

Chauprade, who until recently was part of Marine Le Pen's National Front party, is charged because he helped two Frenchmen escape from a Dominican prison in October.

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The two men, Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos, had been in prison over accusations of transporting 700 kilos of cocaine in the business plane they were piloting in 2013.

After an inquiry and a trial which many said had irregularities, they were serving a 20-year sentence when they escaped.

They are now in prison in Marseille because the French prosecutors are also investigating the affair.

Chauprade helped in the jailbreak, with two other men who were also charged by the Dominican authorities: Christophe Naudin, a criminologist and aviation expert, and Peter Malinowski, a parliamentary assistant to Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front and also an MEP.

Chauprade said he helped because he is an old friend of Naudin and because he believed the two pilots, who are former military men, are innocent.

The MEP is himself a reserve officer in the French Navy. He was a teacher at the joint-army college of defence, but was fired by the defense minister in 2009 because of his conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks.

He was elected to the EU Parliament in 2014 and has sat with non-attached MEPs since he left the National Front earlier this month. He left in part due to the Air Cocaine affair and due to political differences with Marine Le Pen.

A specialist in geopolitics, Chauprade was Le Pen's international adviser and was instrumental in forging close ties between the French far-right leader and the Russian regime.

He says, however, that he was not involved in the talks that led to a Russian bank lending money to the party.

Chauprade and Le Pen eventually fell out. Le Pen said Chauprade was undisciplined and had "broken trust."

The exact charges by the Dominican justice are "illegal trafficking of people and slave trafficking." Chauprade said they were "exuberant" and "madcap."

"I'm surprised, because a warrant is usually issued in two cases: either when the person was summoned or when he did not execute a decision of justice," he told the AFP press agency.

Chauprade benefits from parliamentary immunity. But this could be lifted by the European Parliament after a procedure in which he would also be heard.

The procedure to waive Chauprade's immunity will be launched only if the parliament receives a formal letter from the Dominican authorities.



So far, a source close to Chauprade told EUobserver, Interpol has not confirmed it will relay the Dominican warrant, which therefore remains a national warrant.

Chauprade is currently in Strasbourg attending the parliament's plenary session.

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