Postmedia News July 28, 2010 Comments (6)
OTTAWA — The federal government has intervened in the case of a Canadian
teen stuck in Cuba pending a traffic accident investigation, saying
tourism may be at stake if the matter isn't resolved soon.
In a statement released Wednesday, Peter Kent, the minister of state for
Foreign Affairs (Americas), said he spoke with Cuban officials in Ottawa
a day earlier regarding Canadians who've been detained in Cuba,
including the case of 19-year-old Cody LeCompte.
The teen from Simcoe, Ont., is facing three years in prison for a car
accident in which he's presumed guilty until proven innocent.
He and his mother say they were broadsided by a dump truck at an
intersection during their two-week vacation; he's been unable to leave
the country since April.
"While aware that Cuban law allows for a period of lengthy
investigation, Canadian officials expressed their concern that the
investigation into this matter is taking so long," Kent said in a statement.
"Canadians have long appreciated Cuba as a tourist destination. The
delay faced by Canadians awaiting resolution of such cases could affect
fellow Canadians' choice of Cuba as a tourist destination in the future."
Canada is Cuba's largest source of tourists, with 818,000 Canadians
visiting in 2008 — nearly 35 per cent of all visitors to Cuba.
Kent said Canadian consular officials have been in regular contact with
the LeCompte's family and Cuban officials in Havana in an effort to
expedite the case.
He and parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai also discussed LeCompte's
situation with Cuban officials at the African Union Summit last week in
Uganda, he said.
"The Government of Canada will continue to offer full consular
assistance to Mr. LeCompte and his family until this matter is
resolved," he said.