Video evidence proves innocence of Mississauga based crew detained in Dominican Republic: Pivot Airlines
Published November 3, 2022 at 10:19 am
Pivot Airlines says they have video evidence proving the crew, now detained on drug charges in the Dominican Republic for nearly seven months, is innocent.
The crew of five people have been detained in the Dominican since April 5 when a member of the Pivot crew discovered drugs on the plane bound for Pearson Airport. The crew reported it to authorities in Punta Cana. The Dominican Republic’s National Directorate for Drug Control say they seized 200 packages of cocaine on the plane and decided not to let the flight crew or the passengers leave the country until they got some answers.
Thus far they haven’t been charged but they spent weeks in jail where they were threatened and intimidated and had a dead body left outside their cell and told “that we would be next.”
They were released and have been on house arrest, unable to leave the country since June.
On Aug. 31, the crew’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that there is no evidence against the crew. This motion has yet to be heard.
Pivot Airlines has obtained video evidence proving the crew’s innocence, which has been tabled in court, and shared with the Government of Canada, Pivot Airlines said in an email to insauga.com.
“The footage, captured by multiple airport cameras, show third parties placing suspected contraband on the aircraft in the early morning before the planned departure,” Pivot said. “Separate hotel footage demonstrates the arbitrarily detained crew were in their hotel at the time the alleged contraband was being stowed.”
There is additional airport footage showing the aircraft being examined without Pivot’s permission by people twice in the days before departure, when the crew was not yet in the country, Pivot added. They had access to the secure location where the aircraft was parked.
“It is important to note that local police and the prosecutor have had these videos in their possession since April 2022 when the crew was wrongfully detained,” Pivot said.
Senator David Wells recently spoke about the video evidence during question period in the Senate of Canada.
The video “shows the direct involvement of unrelated third parties placing the contraband on the aircraft,” Wells said.
The inaction from the Canadian government is putting other flight crews at risk, he added.
“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,” Wells said. “‘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.'”
For the third time I asked the Government what they are doing to advocate for the release of the @flywithpivot crew detained in the Dominican Republic.#senpoli #cdnpoli #SenCA @ALPACanada @SenateCA @Transport_gc #BringThemHome @OmarAlghabra #NLpoli pic.twitter.com/wiXbt9VCde
— Senator David Wells (@wellsdavid) October 27, 2022
The Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said the flight crew’s plight is a priority for the Canadian government.
“We will continue to utilize all available diplomatic and other tools to ensure that we stand up for the rights of Canadians,” Alghabra said during question period.
Wells called on the Minister to suspend Canada’s bilateral agreement with the Dominican Republic, which regulates air travel between the two countries.
“This suspension is needed to ensure the safety of the travelling public while the Dominican Republic addresses systemic corruption, lack of witness blower protections, human rights abuses and the direct link between tourism and narco-trafficking,” Pivot Airlines said in a statement.
Three labour unions representing Canadian airline workers (ALPA, CUPE, Unifor) have sent strong warnings to their members, cautioning against the risks of travel to the Dominican Republic and giving guidance on what to do if in the same situation, the Pivot statement continues.
“They are also continuing to call on the Government of Canada to intervene, given the severe safety issues presented for both the Pivot Crew and all airline workers in the country,” Pivot said. “The comments by the Minister should raise significant safety concerns for anyone planning to travel to the Dominican Republic.”
The crew’s next hearing is on Monday (Nov. 7).
— Pivot Airlines (@flywithpivot) June 10, 2022
Editors note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Senator David Wells spoke in the House of Commons. He spoke during question period in the Senate of Canada.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising