Body of Canadian who died in Cuba and was mistakenly buried in Russia has returned home

More than two months since Faraj Jarjour died while vacationing in Cuba, his body has been returned to Quebec, a friend of the family has confirmed. 

Jarjour, 68, was swimming when he died of a heart attack on March 22. His body was supposed to have been repatriated by a Cuban government agency.

But, several weeks later, when the funeral home in Laval, Que., brought the casket to a lab to have Jarjour prepared for his funeral, the person inside looked nothing like the picture the family provided.

Jarjour’s children, Miriam and Karam, spoke to several media outlets, hoping to get answers about where their father could be, and when would they finally be able to bury him. 

Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez made a post on social media, apologizing for the situation and saying Cuban authorities were “investigating to clarify the incident.” 

Ultimately, the family learned the body was buried in a Russian town north of Moscow after Cuban government workers mistakenly switched two bodies before repatriating them to the wrong countries.

Cuba has said it would reimburse the $10,000 it cost the family for the repatriation.

Family friend Anas Fransis said the family will receive condolences on Sunday in Montreal, and a funeral will be held on Tuesday in Laval.

He said the body had deteriorated significantly, but technicians were able to make Jarjour presentable for an open casket service.

The family is relieved, Francis said, but they are still struggling with grief over the incident. He said they are speaking with a lawyer about seeking financial compensation from Canadian and Cuban authorities.

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Jarjour is survived by his wife of 35 years, Dina Ghoulam, and his two children.

WATCH | CBC spoke with the family after the mistake was discovered: 

He died on vacation in Cuba. The wrong body was sent to Canada

The family of a man who died while on vacation in Cuba is trying to track down Faraj Jarjour’s remains after the body of a different man — that didn’t resemble Jarjour — was sent back to Canada. The family says they’ve received no answers about how the mixup happened or where Jarjour’s body is.

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