A Canadian flight crew could be jailed in the Dominican Republic for reporting cocaine they found onboard the aircraft to local authorities. Local police say the cocaine is estimated to be worth about US$25 million.
Pivot Airlines CEO Eric Edmondson has asked Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly for the Government of Canada to do more to intervene and help its flight crew.
Edmondson wrote, “We are writing to request your urgent help to ensure the safe return of the Canadian flight crew being wrongfully imprisoned in the Dominican Republic.”
Our crew has been subjected to threats against their lives, inhumane treatment, and arbitrary detention for more than 24 days simply because they reported a crime and prevented an aviation disaster.
We are deeply concerned about their safety, and ask you to intervene so that they may return home to their families.”
Global News reports that the crew discovered suspected contraband while on a commercial flight and “immediately reported” it.
Although the crew followed Transport Canada policies and international laws, they were immediately detained by local authorities.
Officials in the Dominican Republic said the aircraft was scheduled to fly from Punta Cana to Toronto.
Flight Crew Detained by the Dominican Republic
In a press release on April 6, the National Directorate for Drug Control announced nine Canadians, an Indian, and a Dominican were “being questioned to determine their possible involvement.”
After the flight crew was detained, they were later released on bail, which prosecutors are appealing.
The prosecutor is now appealing the court’s decision to grant the flight crew bail, despite the fact that there is no evidence tying them to a crime.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Minister told Global News that Parliamentary Secretary Maninder Sidhu recently visited the Dominican Republic and met with local government officials.
According to Blanchard, the government of Canada’s first priority is always ensuring the safety and security of Canadians.
Meanwhile, Pivot Airlines CEO Eric Edmondson said the flight crew continues to receive death threats.
The airline has taken “every possible precaution” to keep them safe, including getting approximately $100,000 for bail, hiring security, and relocating them, he said.
We’re concerned that we cannot guarantee their safety fully in the Dominican Republic, even with the maximum protection we can offer.
According to Edmondson, it is “totally unacceptable” for Canadians to be arbitrarily detained for reporting criminal activity. He also suggested the government issue a travel advisory for the Dominican Republic.
He said he wanted the Pivit Airlines crew brought back to Canada where they would remain “available” for Dominican justice if needed.