Church on 'mission to seek justice' for police officers detained in Cuba
A Vancouver church is starting a campaign for two Lower Mainland police officers that have been kept in Cuba for months, claiming the island nation’s serious charges against them are without merit.
Wilson Heights United Church says it is “on a mission to seek justice” for the two men who were charged in connection to an alleged sexual assault in the tourist destination of Veradero in March.
It has started an online fundraiser that has raised more than $8,000 of a $150,000 goal.
“We believe they were falsely accused of a crime they did not commit. They continue to be detained, and the emotional, spiritual, physical and financial toll on them and their families has been and continues to be considerable,” the posting reads.
CTV News reached out to the church’s reverend, Blake Field, but he said he didn’t want to talk about the campaign at this time.
CTV News first identified the police officers as Vancouver Const. Mark Simms and Port Moody Const. Jordan Long in April.
The pair was arrested and released after an allegation of assault involving a young Canadian woman in March. However Cuban authorities have not allowed them to leave.
Cuban news sources have reported that Simms faces a rape charge in connection with an allegation he had sex with a 17-year-old from Ontario, which could carry a seven-year jail sentence. Long is accused of being an accomplice and could face four years in prison, Cuban news sources said.
The Vancouver Police Department said it has not received any updates from Cuban authorities in the case.
The Port Moody Police Department said the “involved member” remains an employee of the PMPD.
“We have not been provided with any updates by the Cuban authorities. However, it’s our understanding the case continues to advance through the Cuban legal system,” said Deputy Chief Constable Ken MacDonald.
It appears the men have exhausted their vacation and leave time and may no longer be receiving a paycheque.