Canadian fights return to Greek prison

A Canadian, convicted of drug charges in Greece, remains in a Dutch prison after being caught last month following a year on the run.
Canadian Kevin Hiebert is fighting extradiction to Greece.
A Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling in Greece remains in a Dutch prison after being caught last month following a year on the run.

The extradition case of former Winnipegger Kevin Hiebert has been put over to Nov. 27 in an Amsterdam courtroom.

"It's always been a monolithic task to just get Kevin represented adequately," says Cam Patterson, Hiebert's Winnipeg-based cousin. "But now I feel he may have some very good legal counsel in his corner."

On Friday, Hiebert appeared in an Amsterdam court, where lawyers argued against his extradition back to Greece. Hiebert, 35, was convicted in Athens in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison for trying to smuggle several kilograms of cocaine into that country.

A year on the lam

His Dutch lawyers are arguing several human rights violations occurred during his judicial experience.

Hiebert was recaptured in the Netherlands last month after spending nearly a year on the lam after fleeing prison in Athens. He has for years been trying to return to Canada under a prisoner exchange program.

Winnipeg South Centre MP Anita Neville and Dan McTeague, MP for Pickering-Scarborough East, have written letters in support of Hiebert's return to Canada.  

"I'm optimistic for a lot of reasons, but mostly I think there are many fair-minded people in both the judicial and political sides of this case who'll say he should be pardoned now and allowed to come home," said Patterson.

Emergency travel document

Following his escape from a Greek prison last fall, Hiebert surfaced at a Canadian Embassy in October this year. Officials there told him there were no warrants for his arrest, he said, and nothing stopping him from returning to Canada. They then issued him an emergency travel document.

Days later, he was arrested at an Amsterdam airport while boarding a plane back to Canada.

Foreign Affairs Canada would not talk to the CBC about the case. But NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis said she has been told that Hiebert was informed by embassy officials that they could not guarantee his safe return to Canada.