PARIS, FRANCE - Two French pilots who had been in the Dominican Republic awaiting a court appeal of their conviction for drug trafficking are now back in France, their lawyer said on Tuesday, after what appeared to be a well-planned escape.
A report on BFMTV carried photos of the two men in a speedboat, and said they went from the boat to a larger vessel, which then sailed to the nearby French-governed part of the Carribbean island of Saint Martin. The report said the two men arrived back in France on Saturday.
Saint Martin is about 730 km (450 miles) from Santo Domingo, the capital of Dominican Republic.
The two men had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for bringing drugs into the country by private plane but deny the charges. They had been free to move around under judicial supervision while awaiting their appeal.
The lawyer, Jean Reinhart, said the pair were not fleeing Dominican justice, but seeking French justice. He said a Marseille judge was leading an inquiry into the affair.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry said the French government was not involved in helping the men flee.
According to Le Figaro newspaper the two men, Bruno Odos and Pascal Fauret, were "extracted" from the country by a team of people.
Fauret was due to give a news conference later on Tuesday. Two other Frenchmen who were also convicted in connection with the same case are still in the Dominican Republic.