2 French pilots who fled Dominican Republic go on trial

FILE - In this June 17, 2014 file photo, French pilots Bruno Odos, left, and Pascal Jean Fauret, who have been formally charged with drug trafficking, are escorted to a courtroom in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Nine men go on trial in southern France for an alleged cocaine trafficking between the Caribbean and Europe, including two pilots who escaped the Dominican Republic to avoid 20-year prison sentences. (AP Photo/Ezequiel Abiu Lopez, File)

PARIS (AP) — Two French pilots who made a mysterious escape from the Dominican Republic in 2015 are going on trial in southern France accused of international cocaine trafficking.

Pascal Jean Fauret and Bruno Odos are among nine defendants in a trial beginning Monday in Aix-en-Provence.

The circumstances of their escape to avoid 20-year prison sentences in the Dominican Republic, with the help of a French far-right member of the European Parliament and a renowned aviation expert, remain unclear. French media say they sailed to the French Caribbean island of Saint Martin.

The French government denied any involvement in the escape.

The two men were initially arrested in 2013 in a Dominican Republic airport. Authorities said the plane they were piloting was carrying 26 suitcases of cocaine. They have denied wrongdoing.

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