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Drug pardon frees French women from Dominican jail

 Alain Joyandet, French Junior Minister for Cooperation, left, escorts French citizens Sarah Zaknoun, center, and Celine Faye to a helicopter followin...
 Alain Joyandet, French Junior Minister for Cooperation, second left, escorts French citizens Sarah Zaknoun, front second right, and Celine Faye, far ...
 Journalists watch the departure of a helicopter carrying French Junior Minister for Cooperation Alain Joyandet along with French citizens Sarah Zakno...
 Alain Joyandet, French Junior Minister for Cooperation, center, speaks to the press as he escorts French citizens Sarah Zaknoun, left, and Celine Fay...
 French citizens Sarah Zaknoun, left, and Celine Faye leave a Dominican prison following their early release in Santiago, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009.  A D...

Dominican Republic France Prisoners Released

Alain Joyandet, French Junior Minister for Cooperation, left, escorts French citizens Sarah Zaknoun, center, and Celine Faye to a helicopter followin...

Dominican Republic France Prisoners Released

Alain Joyandet, French Junior Minister for Cooperation, second left, escorts French citizens Sarah Zaknoun, front second right, and Celine Faye, far ...

Dominican Republic France Prisoners Released

Journalists watch the departure of a helicopter carrying French Junior Minister for Cooperation Alain Joyandet along with French citizens Sarah Zakno...

Dominican Republic France Prisoners Released

Alain Joyandet, French Junior Minister for Cooperation, center, speaks to the press as he escorts French citizens Sarah Zaknoun, left, and Celine Fay...

Dominican Republic France Prisoners Released

French citizens Sarah Zaknoun, left, and Celine Faye leave a Dominican prison following their early release in Santiago, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009. A D...

Two Frenchwomen convicted of drug trafficking were released from a Dominican prison and headed back to Paris on Tuesday.
Sarah Zaknoun, 19, and Celine Faye, 20, left a women's penitentiary near Santiago accompanied by French officials. They were helicoptered to the capital, Santo Domingo, and taken to the French Embassy to await a commercial flight home, embassy spokeswoman Cecilia Henique said.
The women were arrested in June 2008 while trying to board a flight to Paris carrying six kilograms (more than 13 pounds) of cocaine, the newspaper Clave Digital reported.
A Dominican court sentenced them to eight years in prison. But their case became a cause celebre in France, and interventions by officials and luminaries including first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy helped them secure a Christmas Eve pardon from Dominican President Leonel Fernandez.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy cheered the decision last week and said the women will not face further charges or jail time back home. They were expected to arrive in Paris Wednesday morning aboard an Air France jet, Henique said.
Zaknoun and Faye's pardons were granted after the two countries signed a convention that lets criminals serve jail sentences in their native lands. Some 35 Dominicans are imprisoned in France, while at least 17 other French citizens are currently jailed in the Dominican Republic.
The Caribbean nation is a transshipment point for Colombian cocaine bound for the United States and Europe, according to government reports.
Zaknoun and Faye, who had been in the country for a week before their arrest, maintain they did not know the drugs were in their luggage.


Updated : 2021-05-11 04:00 GMT+08:00