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Canadian aircrew trapped in Dominican Republic after 6 months

It’s been six months since a Canadian flight crew was detained in the Dominican Republic after finding drugs on board and reporting them to the authorities.

With court proceedings hampered by Hurricane Fiona, the managing director of Pivot Airlines says not a day goes by when the five-strong crew does not fear for their future.

“They’ve had an extraordinarily difficult period, as you can imagine,” Eric Edmondson said. “They’ve missed birthdays and holidays. We have Thanksgiving and they’re desperately missing their families.

The team was initially detained on April 5 after they found more than 200 kilograms of cocaine on their plane at Punta Cana airport.

Along with six passengers, the crew was scheduled to fly to Toronto that day. Instead, they were taken into custody.

The team was released on bail later in April, but on the condition that they remain in the Dominican Republic. It is not clear whether passengers will continue to be detained.

Edmondson said Pivot has arranged for the team to live in a “safe house” in a gated community while they await the conclusion of the case. He says they have been moved four to five times for security reasons.

Although the five Canadians are allowed relative freedom in the gated community, Edmondson says morale is incredibly low.

“They’re afraid for their lives. They’re afraid of the consequences of this bogus accusation that they’re facing,” he said. “They all have good days and bad days, but as time goes on, the worse days are more frequent.”

Edmondson says a motion was filed Aug. 31 to dismiss the case “fundamentally for lack of evidence.” He says the team has not been questioned and it is impossible to gather new evidence at this time.

“We’ve been quietly waiting. We had good momentum with the file for a couple of weeks,” he said. “And while we’re moving toward a good outcome, Hurricane Fiona passed through the Dominican Republic.”

The airline hopes the crew can come home soon, but Edmondson also described the Dominican system as a “wild west.”

At the team’s July 21 hearing, the prosecutor attempted to revoke their bail and send them back to prison. The hearing was adjourned due to the absence of an English interpreter.

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Global Affairs Canada said they are aware of the Pivot Airlines incident and that the safety and security of citizens is their “first priority.”

“Canadian officials continue to closely monitor the situation, communicate with local authorities and provide consular assistance. For privacy reasons, no further information can be released.

In the meantime, Pivot Airlines is urging people to consider flying to the Dominican Republic and traveling elsewhere for vacation.