Latin America & Caribbean

Cuba frees Canadian transport executive Cy Tokmakjian

Cuban commuters line up to crowd onto a bus in Havana, Cuba on 26 January 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Tokmakjian group supplied Cuba with transportation equipment for 20 years

Cuba has freed the president of a Canadian transport company after more than three years in jail.

Cy Tokmakjian was arrested in 2011 as part of an anti-corruption drive and jailed for 15 years on bribery charges.

The court also arrested two other employees from the company and seized the Tokmakjian Group's Cuban assets, which were worth about $100m (£65m).

Canada has so far refused to comment as to whether it played a role in securing Mr Tokmakjian's release.

During his trial, the Canadian government was engaged in talks between the US and Cuba aimed at restoring ties between the two countries.

On 17 December Washington and Havana announced that they would normalise relations.

'Travesty of justice'

At the time of Mr Tokmakjian's sentencing, his company said the ruling was a "travesty of justice" that could deter potential investors from doing business with Cuba.

Two other executives from the Tokmakjian Group - fellow Canadian citizens Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche - were sentenced to eight and 12 years in prison.

It is not yet clear whether they too will be released.

The Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group sold transportation, mining and construction equipment to Cuba for more than 20 years.

Its offices in Havana were seized in 2011 on the orders of Cuban President Raul Castro.

Fourteen Cubans, including two high-ranking officials, were also convicted and sentenced in the case.

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