Forced landing at Air Cocaine appeal trial.
The hearing held before the specially composed Assize Court in Aix-en-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône) was suspended this Friday morning due to the absence of the main defendant.
Ali Bouchareb, alleged sponsor of the 680 kg of cocaine discovered in 26 suitcases aboard a private jet on the tarmac in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) in March 2013, was physically unable to attend the proceedings, a week after starting a hunger strike.
Sentenced to 18 years of criminal imprisonment at first instance in 2019, this 50-year-old man, who fully contests the charges against him, stopped eating on Friday, June 11, the final means for him to denounce the non-appearance of the director of inquiry at the hearing.
This incredible and sulphurous affair has been tried again since June 7.
From the start, Ali Bouchareb, accused detained, was disillusioned.
Reason: the president of the Assize Court announced that the gendarme of the research section (SR) of Marseille, the one who led the investigations between July 2014 and 2017, would not come to the hearing.
The interested party invoked concerns of blood circulation, attested by a medical certificate.
An unthinkable absence for Ali Bouchareb.
"The hearing of the director of investigation is absolutely essential, we cannot do without it", support his advice, Mes Menya Arab-Tigrine and Hugues Vigier, invoking the issue for the defense of their client as well as the respect for the contradictory.
The resumption of the trial linked to his state of health
In the first instance, the gendarme in question came to defend his investigation at the bar.
In particular, he found the main prosecution witness against Ali Bouchareb.
“The latter had told the court the circumstances of his confidences made to the investigators, in a bar where his text had been somewhat dictated to him.
Under the influence of annoyance, the director of the investigation then revealed that this man was an indicator of the judicial police, ”summarize Ali Bouchareb's lawyers.
The defense therefore firmly awaited the gendarme on the occasion of this second trial.
The president requested an additional medical certificate which confirmed the impossibility for this witness to come to the hearing, due to the stress.
Ali Bouchareb then decided to stop eating, as he had already done for seventeen days in detention this winter.
He attended the hearings, but his state of health deteriorated and he had to be medically taken care of this Friday.
"Our client chose this extreme means to denounce the way in which this appeal trial was held", add his lawyers.
The resumption of the trial on Monday therefore depends on the health of Ali Bouchareb.
The president of the Assize Court has the possibility of separating her case from that of the five other accused persons.
That said, judging this case without its main defendant would not make much sense, according to several parties who already deplore the absence of two key figures - passengers of the jet - convicted in the Dominican Republic, but never tried in France.