A Vancouver-based immigration lawyer says a pair of Metro Vancouver officers stranded in Cuba could still face lengthy detention.
The duo, Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Const. Mark Simms and his friend, Port Moody Police Department (PMPD) Const. Jordan Long were cleared of an alleged sex assault that took place in the island country back in March.
They have been stuck on the island since then.
WATCH: B.C. police officers cleared of all charges in Cuba
Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer based in Vancouver, said even though the two police officers have been acquitted, there is no guarantee they will be back in Canada right away.
“They are close to the finish line but that doesn’t count. The appeal structure under the criminal law of Cuba gives more time to start another case,” Kurland said.
He added that there are a couple of options. The prosecutor in Cuba will either know in the next few weeks whether to proceed with an appeal, or abandon that idea, he said.
“Until then, due to the exit control system at the airport in Cuba, our Canadian officers are stranded with no remedy, no end in sight.”
WATCH: Appeal from the family of B.C. cop held in Cuba (Aired Oct. 12, 2018)
That means, even though the two men were acquitted of the sexual assault allegations, their legal nightmare in Cuba might not be over.
“In 10 days under the criminal law system in Cuba, their officials decide yes or no, appeal or not,” Kurland said.
“If yes, the Canadian officers are stranded for an unknown period to come. If there is no appeal, well, onto the airplane.”
Kurland also said there is a possibility the prosecution service in Cuba could waive the waiting period and allow the two officers to come home.
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He said the fact that they are officers of the court should carry some currency in Cuba as it does in Canada.
The pair were acquitted by a five-woman jury late last week.
The two had initially travelled to the resort town of Varadero in March, but were arrested after a 17-year-old girl from Ontario contacted Cuban police and alleged she had been sexually assaulted.
They were released after the arrest but prevented from leaving the country.
On Thursday, B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner told Global News, a Canadian investigation into the officers’ conduct in Cuba under the Police Act had been suspended pending more information from Cuba.