Frenchman Completes Sentence for Myanmar Drone Flight

French national Arthur Desclaux is seen at the immigration office Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Photo: Aung Shine Oo / Associated Press
French national Arthur Desclaux is seen at the immigration office Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Photo: Aung Shine Oo / Associated Press

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar — A French man sentenced to one month in prison with hard labor for flying a drone in Myanmar completed his term Wednesday, but remained in detention because his deportation order was delayed.

Arthur Desclaux, 27, was arrested on Feb. 7 for flying the drone near the parliament building in the capital, Naypyitaw. He was convicted of violating the Illegal Export-Import Act by bringing the device into Myanmar without a license. He also was fined about USD$100 for violating two other laws covering aviation and immigration.

Myint Zaw, the chief immigration officer of Ottarathiri township, said Desclaux would be kept in a police jail Wednesday night because the deportation order from the Immigration Department had not arrived by late afternoon and no one was available to take responsibility for guaranteeing his whereabouts.

He said Desclaux could expect to be free on Thursday.

“We will do this process quickly,” he said. “Unless we do so, it will not be good for both countries, the law will come under criticism. So, we will do it quickly.”

Frederic Inza, a counselor at the French Embassy in Myanmar who has attended the legal proceedings, said: “Now that all the procedures at the court have finished, we’re satisfied. We only have immigration procedures left.”

He added his appreciation for the Immigration Department’s work, but said it was unfortunate that no one in Myanmar could post a guarantee for Desclaux.

Desclaux’s family had been trying to contact someone to take care of the guarantee but with no result so far, so he would have to remain in police custody, Inza said.

In 2017, a film crew working for Turkish state television was jailed for two months for trying to fly a drone over the parliament in Naypyitaw. A Singaporean and a Malaysian working for broadcaster TRT, along with two Myanmar assistants, were convicted under a 1934 law covering aircraft. The two foreigners were deported immediately after their release from prison.