Lawyer seeks to have drug case towards Guelph pilot dismissed

Guelph pilot Rob Di Venanzo and his crew have been detained in the Dominican Republic since April

Detained in the Dominican Republic without charge for the past six months, efforts are underway to see the case against a Guelph pilot and crew dismissed so they can return home.

“As our crew remains under considerable distress, missing irreplaceable time with their families, we are urging the Dominican authorities to recognize their innocence,” said Eric Edmondson, CEO of Pivot Airlines, via email. “They have endured inhumane conditions, threats against their lives, and six months away from their families, their lives, and their careers – simply for doing their job.”

The crew, including Guelph pilot Rob Di Venanzo, has been detained since April 5 when it took a charter flight from Toronto to Punta Cana. While readying the plane for their return, Edmonson previously explained they found suspicious bags in a hard-to-access part of the aircraft, with what was later revealed to be 200 kgs of cocaine. 

They notified Canadian and Dominican authorities, who then searched the aircraft before taking the five crew members and six passengers into custody. The crew then spent nine days in a small cell with 26 other inmates, with minimal access to food and water and numerous threats to their lives. 

“Pivot Airlines remains deeply concerned for our crew’s safety, and continue to do everything in our power to secure their freedom. We have engaged governments at the highest level, conducted a third-party investigation proving their innocence, and recently filed for their case to be dismissed,” Edmonson wrote. “Tragically, the Dominican authorities continue to ignore the evidence and immense human impact.”

A hearing is set for Oct. 20, during which Edmonson said a lawyer will ask the court to dismiss the case. The motion to dismiss was filed Aug. 31.

In the meantime, Edmonson said Pivot Airlines continues to support the crew ” however necessary (including accommodation, security, and health care).”

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