20 Nov 2019

Group jailed in New Caledonia for smuggling cocaine lose appeal

12:07 pm on 20 November 2019

The men jailed in New Caledonia in 2017 for transporting 1.4 tonnes of cocaine on a yacht have lost their appeal in France's highest court.

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Photo: 123RF

The four men from Latvia and Lithuania were imprisoned for terms between six and 10 years.

Their yacht was intercepted by the French navy in July 2017 while sailing near Tonga en route to Australia.

Their lawyer had challenged the legality of the arrest procedure in international waters.

The four said they didn't know about the drugs, claiming they were paid just over $US2000 a month for sailing the Gibraltar-registered yacht for refurbishment in Australia.

One of the convicted, who was 18 at the time, said he was encouraged by his father to take the job in order to be able to go abroad for the first time.

The drug consignment, which was worth an estimated $US500 million, was burnt under tight security in the furnace of the SLN nickel smelter in Noumea.