Receiving death threats from narco criminals, extortion from inmates, and living in “inhumane and humiliating” conditions, this is how Pivot Airlines Captain Robert Di Venanzo has described the past six months that he and four colleagues have spent being detained in the Domincan Republic.
Di Venanzo and the four other flight crew members of Canadian charter airline Pivot Airlines were detained in April 2022 after contraband drugs were seized from the aircraft prior to departure en route to Toronto from Punta Cana.
A video published by Pivot Airlines in June 2022 shows Di Venanzo and flight attendant Christine Carello speaking on behalf of their colleagues, urging Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help bring them home.
“Two months ago, we discovered suspected contraband onboard our aircraft,” Di Venanzo said.
Di Venanzo added: “We reported it immediately to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Dominican Republic authorities. The Dominicans threw us in jail.”
“We know that we did the right thing reporting these drugs. We stopped drugs from entering Canada…no one should have to endure this simply by doing their jobs,” Di Venanzo said.
The video was published after the group was released from jail.
A court date was set on August 25,2022 to appeal to reverse the crew’s bail was adjourned as a translator was not present, a Pivot spokesperson told Canadian media outlet insauga.com.
Eric Edmondson, CEO of Pivot Airlines has told Canadian media outlet CTV News Toronto that Pivot has arranged for the crew to live in a “safe house” in a gated community while they wait for the court case to come to an end.
“They’re scared for their lives. They’re scared of the outcome of this bogus charge that they’re facing,” Edmonson said. “They all have good days and bad days, but the bad days are more frequent as time goes on.”