Canadians jailed in Dominican wedding brawl return home to Canada, charges dropped
Raw video: Arrival back in Toronto
TORONTO –Two Canadian men who’ve spent the last three weeks in a Dominican jail following a wedding brawl returned home Tuesday night following their release from prison on Monday.
“We’re happy, we’re ecstatic,” aunt Josie Depaola told Global News. “Our family will be together again.”
Thirty-four year-old Nick Miele and his 18-year-old cousin, Ben Costantini were imprisoned and charged with physical aggression after a fight erupted at the May 27 wedding reception of Hamilton, Ont. resident Miele and his bride, Stacey.
Family members said the couple is spending Wednesday with family and friends, as well as going to medical appointments. Depaola previously called her nephew, Nick, a very private person.
“That’s why he went to get married down there: he didn’t want a big wedding,” she said. “Would you believe it?”
Depaola, who was in her hotel room at the time of the brawl, said the physical aggression charge has been dropped, and the young men have been “completely exonerated.”
“They were released yesterday at six o’clock, finally,” she said on Tuesday morning. “They have signed papers, the Canadian embassy was there when they were all signed, and he checked them all over and he’s taking them to the airport.”
The family claims that during the May 27 wedding reception at a Punta Cana resort, two unidentified men crashed the festivities and started a fight. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) has confirmed the incident involved a “third Canadian citizen who was injured in the altercation.”
While some reports suggest Dominican prosecutors were seeking a two-year jail sentence for the men, as well as $100,000 in damages against a victim, Depaola said she was never aware of that.
“The second day they were in jail, we heard that the Russian guy [who she believes lives in Montreal] wanted $110,00 for himself—for his injuries—and then we never heard anything else about it,” she said. Depaola believes the third man has already returned to Canada.
A statement from Minister of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy said Canadian consular officials worked with Dominican authorities, the families involved and legal counsel and will “continue to provide assistance as appropriate until the remaining two citizens have returned home to Canada.”
“We are pleased that the two Canadian parties involved in an altercation in the Dominican Republic have found common ground in order to resolve their situation,” said the statement. “Canada has called for fairness and due process for both parties, and Dominican officials have assured us that all involved will continue to be treated justly and according to local laws while on Dominican Republic soil.”
Depaola returned to Hamilton last Friday, but said ten family members remained on the island until Tuesday night. That group included Stacey, who couldn’t be happier about Monday’s release.
“Stacey told me she’s never letting go of her husband again, ever. She had her arms around him, and she wasn’t letting him go, and he had his arms around her, and he’s not letting her go,” said Depaola.
© Shaw Media, 2013