A statement issued on behalf of the families of both the officers says the news is a “painful realization that the nightmare is not yet over.”
VANCOUVER — The families of two British Columbia police officers being held in Cuba say the men might have to stay in the country longer because the prosecutor plans to appeal a unanimous verdict that acquitted them of assault charges.
A statement issued on behalf of the families of Mark Simms and Jordan Long says the news is a “painful realization that the nightmare is not yet over.”
The statement says they have no idea when Simms, 29, a constable with the Vancouver police, and Long, 31, a constable in nearby Port Moody, will be allowed to return to Canada.
Rollie Woods, the deputy police complaint commissioner in B.C., said in April that the men were in Varadero when they were arrested in mid-March following allegations that an Ontario teenager was assaulted while vacationing in the same area.
Woods said the Vancouver officer was being held for assault, while the Port Moody officer was detained as a witness.
A 17-year-old Canadian female alleged to Cuban authorities she was assaulted by Simms, and officials held Long as a material witness in the case, Woods said.
The Canadian Press contacted the Directorate of International Relations in Cuba and was asked on Friday to send an email, but a reply has not been received.
Global Affairs Canada said consular services are being provided, but because of the Privacy Act no other information can be disclosed.
Vancouver police confirmed in an email that Simms is a constable in the department but it had no update on the situation. The Port Moody Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.
The statement from the families does not specify what the two officers were originally charged with.
“We are so grateful that the Cuban judiciary recognized that the case against Jordan and Mark was based on a lie that had no evidence to support it, but in fact only had evidence to refute it,” the statement says.
In Cuba, unlike in Canada, people accused of crimes are considered guilty until proven innocent, it says.
The statement says a panel of five judges issued the unanimous acquittal last week and the families expect the very highest levels of the Canadian government to work with Cuban authorities to bring the pair home.
“Mark and Jordan and our families and friends have endured tremendous suffering in every area of our lives for the last eight months; emotional, physical, psychological, financial, spiritual and social,” the statement says. “We have been overjoyed at the thought that this ongoing nightmare would soon be over and that the long journey towards healing could finally begin.”
The statement says the families look forward to an investigation by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner so the truth can be fully revealed.
“We are holding on to the hope that they will be home to celebrate Christmas with their loving families and friends,” it concludes.