Pivot Airlines Captain Robert Di Venanzo has described the previous six months that he and four colleagues have spent being held in the Dominican Republic as being filled with “inhumane and humiliating” conditions, death threats from narco-traffickers, and extortion from fellow prisoners.
Di Venanzo and the other four members of the Pivot Airlines flight crew were detained in April 2022 after illegal substances were found on board the plane before it took off from Punta Cana for Toronto.
Di Venanzo and flight attendant Christine Carello are shown pleading with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to assist in their return in a video released by Pivot Airlines in June 2022.
“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.”
— Pivot Airlines (@flywithpivot) June 10, 2022
“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 translator was not present, thus a court hearing for an appeal to overturn the crew’s release was postponed to August 25, 2022, a Pivot spokeswoman informed the Canadian media outlet insauga.com.
The crew will reside in a “safe house” in a guarded community while they wait for the court case to be over, according to Eric Edmondson, CEO of Pivot Airlines, who spoke to Canadian media outlet CTV News Toronto.
“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.”