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Canadian Airline Crew, Passengers Detained in Dominican Republic Granted Freedom

Pivot Air crew and passengers detained in the Dominican Republic are finally coming home to Canada. According to a new report, paperwork to free the five airline crew members and seven passengers of Pivot Air has been submitted and is waiting to be certified by a judge. The victims have been in custody since early April.

On April 5, a Pivot Air flight was scheduled to return to Pearson Airport, Canada, from the Dominican Republic but the trip did not go as planned. The crew mechanic spotted eight duffle bags kept in the avionics bay in the belly of the plane. The crew immediately notified local authorities but were then detained and their passports, confiscated. According to local authorities, there was 210 kg of cocaine in those bags.

The five-person crew, including an Indian-origin man, was imprisoned in the Dominican Republic. According to a video shared by the crew, they were mistreated in prison. They also shared that a dead body was placed outside their cell and they were told they would be next. The crew was then released from prison and put on house arrest. Notably, video evidence proving their innocence was available since April. It showed unknown persons placing the bags in the plane and also showed the crew in a different location at the same time.

Earlier this month, Senator David Wells said the inactivity shown by the Dominican Republic and Canadian authorities is putting other flight crews at risk. “The Dominican Republic and Canadian authorities, by their inaction, are sending a clear message to all Canadian air crews operating flights to the Dominican Republic. ‘Don’t look for contraband and if you see it, don’t report it just leave. If you report as the rules require you will be detained indefinitely without charge, even when there’s clear video evidence showing their innocence.”

Now, after almost seven months in the foreign land, the crew members along with seven passengers will be coming back to Canada. The prosecutor for this case has submitted paperwork to free the 12 Canadians. A judge needs to certify the paperwork after which they should be free to leave. The certification is just a formality, according to the report.

The crew includes Indian-origin Mississauga man named Bal Krishna Dubey who is a mechanical engineer, Captain Robert Di Venanzo, of Guelph, co-pilot Aatif Safdar, of Hamilton, flight attendant Christina Carello, of Brampton, and flight attendant Alex Rozov, of Toronto.

Vineet Washington

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