The sister of one of two B.C. police officers being held in Cuba on allegations of sexual assault says her brother is being denied justice.
It’s been seven months since Vancouver Police Department Const. Mark Simms and his friend, Port Moody Const. Jordan Long, had their passports seized in Varadero, Cuba.
The officers were on vacation in the popular tourist town in March, when a 17-year-old girl from Ontario contacted Cuban police alleging she was sexually assaulted.
But Simms’ sister Rebecca told Global News there is no evidence that either officer committed a crime.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that they are both innocent,” she said, adding that her brother is in legal limbo and scared about what could happen.
“Oh yeah, of course. The fear of the unknown is something we can all relate to,” she said.
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Reverend Blake Field, minister to the Simms family, has been to Cuba twice to assist the officers in translating documents.
Field, who is fluent in Spanish, is gravely concerned because he says the men were forced to sign statements they couldn’t read and court documents make no mention of evidence — video, witnesses or physical — to support the allegations.
“There is no physical evidence, based on an examination, that there was any force, violence, or that anything unconsensual took place,” he said.
Global News has been in touch with officials in Havana and is working on obtaining the court documents from Cuba to independently verify the details in this case.
It is also unclear if charges have been laid against the two men. The officers were jailed for a week in March and then released but they are prohibited from leaving the country. Simms’ sister is hoping someone comes forward.
“We believe there’s somebody out there who knows the truth,” she said.
“There were other travel companions with her and we’re sure someone knows the truth and it’s weighing very heavily on somebody’s conscience. We have two innocent lives on the line here.”
Last month, Global Affairs Canada told Global News that consular officials in Varadero remain in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and are providing services to Canadians facing travel restrictions.
B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner says regardless of the outcome, the two men will still face an investigation into potential misconduct under the Police Act when they return to Canada.
The Vancouver Police Department and the Port Moody Police Department continue to monitor the situation.