Canadian flight crew held in Dominican Republic released on bail: airline



A Canadian airline has warned against travelling to the Dominican Republic after five of its crew members were among 11 people detained in the country when 200 packages of presumed cocaine were seized onboard an aircraft in early April.

Pivot Airlines told Global News its crew members, detained at the beginning of the month, had now been released on bail but were required to remain within the country.

The alleged drugs bust was made on April 6 at Punta Cana International Airport, according to the country’s National Directorate for Drug Control.

Pivot Airlines said that five of its crew members discovered and reported what they believed to be contraband in the maintenance compartment of the plane. They were then detained, the airline said.

In its statement, Pivot Airlines warned of threats to the safety of its crew members and urged anyone travelling to the country to make alternative plans.

“The continued prosecution and credible threats to the lives of our crew in the Dominican Republic raise serious concerns for all those travelling to the country, including those considering vacationing in the Dominican Republic,” a spokesperson said. “We believe this incident should cause all travellers to consider making alternative travel plans.”

“While we were recently able to secure their release on bail, a condition of their release was that they must remain in the Dominican Republic until the matter is resolved,” the spokesperson said.

In an April 6 press release, the National Directorate for Drug Control said nine Canadians, one person from India and another from the Dominican Republic were “being questioned to determine their possible involvement.”

Global Affairs Canada told Global News was aware “of the incident involving Pivot Airlines in the Dominican Republic.”

“Consular officials are monitoring the situation closely, engaging with local authorities and providing consular assistance,” a spokesperson said.

A former detainee of Guantanamo Bay is taking legal action against the Canadian government over its alleged role in his 14 years behind bars marked by torture and intimidation.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian who lived in Montreal for two months, launched a $35-million lawsuit Friday alleging that faulty intelligence provided by Canadian authorities contributed to his detention at the U.S. offshore military prison, where he said he suffered fierce beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual assault.

A statement of claim from Slahi, whose story became a best-selling memoir and Hollywood film, states that surveillance by Canada’s spy agency and police force was fed to his American interrogators. Eventually their “torture broke him down” and prompted a false confession about a plan to blow up the CN Tower, which he had never heard of, the court filings state.

READ MORE: ‘I thought I was going to die’: Guantanamo Bay prisoner details abuse in court testimony

Slahi, now a 51-year-old writer-in-residence at a Dutch theatre company, left Canada in 2000 after authorities with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP started questioning him about supposed ties to Ahmed Ressam, the so-called millennium bomber who planned to attack Los Angeles airport. The two had briefly had attended the same large mosque in Montreal.