Canadian Businessman Freed from Cuban Prison

Sarkis Yacoubian.  Photo:
Sarkis Yacoubian. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — After serving 2.5 years of his 9-year sentence for corruption, Canadian businessman Sarkis Yacoubian was suddenly released and is now back home in Toronto, reports Associated Press on Sunday.

Yacoubian, the president of the Tri-Star Caribbean import company, was arrested in 2011 in one of Raul Castro’s crackdowns on corruption. He was formally charged in April 2013 of bribery, tax evasion and “activities damaging to the economy,” and tried in late May.

“I can’t discuss on what grounds I was expelled,” said the 53-year-old Yacoubian. “When somebody goes to jail, most of them claim that they were innocent. It’s not only the facts that support this for me, but official recognition that supports this,” Yacoubian told AP from his mother’s home in Toronto.

“I’m still confused. They released me on 24-48 hours’ notice, I still don’t know exactly how this whole thing happened. I’m trying to figure out what happened, who had interest behind it, which were the organizations or companies that did what they did to me. So it’s just 48 hours. The decision, nobody knew that. They just said we’re going to let you out,” said Yacoubian.

The release of Yacoubian has not been reported in the Cuban press.

3 thoughts on “Canadian Businessman Freed from Cuban Prison

  • I think you hit on it, ac: the Cuban gov’t is thinking about Canadian tourism and the big Sherritt nickel mine in Moa. Maybe. Or perhaps there is something else going on.

    Another Canadian businessman, Cy Tokmaakjian, 73, was arrested September 2011. He remains in Cuba’s La Condesa prison with no charges filed.

  • It is curious and seemingly arbitrary how some foreigners are released early and others are held for disproportionately long sentences. I fear that Alan Gross will be of the latter group. Because the Cuban penal system and “justice” system in general lacks transparency, who can know what and why things happen in Cuba.

  • Is the standard procedure in the Cuban penal system: you only serve 1/3 of the time at the discretion of the prison authorities unless the conviction implies violent crime or you piss off the wrong people. Also Cuba seems to be tiptoeing around Canadian citizens convicted of crimes in Cuba, probably to avoid damaging their touristic industry.

    This should be good news for Gross, after all 1/3 of his sentence will happen this year, so the Cuban authorities should be able to free him without losing face.

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