Cuba may return imprisoned Canadian if appeal dropped, lawyer says
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published October 5, 2014 – 8:14pm
A lawyer for a Canadian businessman sentenced in Cuba to 15 years in
prison says a decision will be made this week whether to appeal or let
the verdict stand in hopes of speeding his return to Canada.
Cy Tokmakjian, who owns the Ontario-based automotive company Tokmakjian
Group, was sentenced last month on corruption-related charges that his
family has called completely false.
Company lawyer Hermenegildo Altozano says there is a Friday deadline on
whether to seek an appeal with Cuba’s Supreme Court.
But Altozano says an active appeal would put off Tokmakjian’s possible
return to Canada under a prisoner transfer treaty.
He says Tokmakjian’s lawyers in Cuba are looking for assurances that he
may be released to serve his sentence in Canada if no further legal
action is taken.
Altozano says Canadian officials have been active on the case, and the
family was told Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird raised the matter
with his Cuban counterpart at the United Nations General Assembly two
And he says MP Peter Kent, who represents Tokmakjian’s riding of
Vaughan, Ont., also went to Cuba to lobby for his release.
“If by not appealing we get assurances that he will be released then it
is very likely that no appeal will occur,” Altozano said in an interview
The company’s Cuban offices were raided in 2011 as the country launched
an anti-graft drive that has swept up foreign business executives from
at least five nations as well as government officials and dozens of
Cuban employees at key state-run companies. Tokmakjian, 74, was held for
more than two years before being tried in June.
Altozano noted that the possible approval of a transfer may also be
contingent on the company dropping claims with the International Chamber
of Commerce and an Ontario court over the confiscation of its assets.
While he couldn’t confirm whether talks were already taking place, he
noted that such conversations may be occuring under the radar given the
complexities of Cuba’s legal system.
“The fact that we are not aware doesn’t mean that they are not doing it.”
Two other company officials — managers Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche —
received 12- and eight-year sentences respectively, the firm has said.
Tokmakjian’s son, Raffi, has expressed concerns about his father’s
health, saying he was injured in a fall from a bunk bed.
Source: Cuba may return imprisoned Canadian if appeal dropped, lawyer
says | The Chronicle Herald –