Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Comissiong: Garcia safely back home


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RAUL GARCIA has arrived safely back in Cuba and was scheduled to travel to the southeastern city of Guantanamo yesterday, where he will be residing.
This was disclosed yesterday by his attorney David Comissiong, who said he had received messages from Garcia’s friends and family, but had not heard from him directly.
Comissiong said that Garcia spent a day in Havana but was due to take a plane to his new home where he will be residing with a 92-year-old uncle.
The 58-year-old Garcia left Barbados on Monday morning after serving a 20-year prison sentence for cocaine trafficking.
Garcia, whose full name is Raul Tomas Garcia Castilla, was released from HMP Dodds on March 11, 2010, and detained at the airport until December 17 that year, when he was taken back to Dodds after it became clear that there was no country willing to take the deportee at that time.
He was released from Dodds, into the custody of the Chief Immigration Officer on September 9, 2012, and held at  a detention facility under the jurisdiction and control of personnel from the Immigration Department.
Comissiong eventually got the Courts to allow Garcia to stay with a Barbadian family while still under the immigration jurisdiction.
On Monday as Garcia warmly embraced those who assisted him and said his goodbyes, Comissiong said everybody deserved a second chance, especially if they had been rehabilitated.
“I hope that we Barbadians as a nation have learnt some lessons from this whole saga. I think one of those lessons is that people who fall afoul of the law can rehabilitate.
“The authorities at the Dodds Prisons told us that Mr Garcia had been rehabilitated but many of us did not seem to want to trust their words.”
Bonita Belgrave, who housed Garcia, also shared the view that Garcia needed a second chance.
“Everybody had given up on Mr Garcia but we [she and her husband James] did not. We have known him for about two years,” she said.
Comissiong said he was happy that the judicial system, in particular Justice Margaret Reifer, had got it right by giving Garcia his freedom.
“I would also like to give kudos to the Government of Cuba by eventually doing the right thing by responding to Mr Garcia’s request to be allowed to return to the country of his birth,” he added. (SP/JS)

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