Winnipeg man back in European custody

The day before former Winnipegger Kevin Hiebert was due to appear in a Greek court on drug charges, a Greek lawyer made his father an unusual offer.

Walked away from Greek prison a year ago; now he faces extradition back there

Kevin Hiebert escaped from a Greek prison where he was serving a life sentence; now he has been re-arrested in Amsterdam. ((CBC))
The day before former Winnipegger Kevin Hiebert was due to appear in a Greek court on drug charges, a Greek lawyer made his father an unusual offer.

Ante up $10,000 and he would make Hiebert’s charges go away.

"Imagine being the father and hearing that," Hiebert’s cousin, Cam Patterson, told CBC News.

"They'd already remortgaged the house to get to Greece for the trial … they didn't have the money."

The following day, Hiebert was convicted of drug smuggling. It was September 2000, about a year after his 1999 arrest.

He was sentenced to life in prison by a judge without a jury, his lawyer or even a translator present. She didn’t make it to the hearing.

"The translator felt so bad that she missed the hearing, especially when she heard the verdict," Hiebert’s father, Dick Hiebert, said. "She tried to find him a lawyer to help him out of it."

Days later, however, Dick Hiebert said he was approached again. This time, a different Greek official said that for more than $60,000 he would "make the life sentence go away."

Once again, Hiebert didn't have the money.

What followed was years of frustration and heartache.

First, Hiebert was given some grim legal advice — waive his right to an appeal and he would be eligible for a prisoner-exchange agreement between Canada and Greece.

MP Anita Neville said she'll be bringing Hiebert's case before Parliament. ((CBC))
Such an agreement exists, and Hiebert was eligible, meaning he could have been transferred to a Canadian prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canada, but that never happened. First, Greece refused to send him. Then Canadian officials repeatedly refused to accept him.

In November 2008, Hiebert had enough and walked away from the prison after serving nine years in custody. He never looked back.

Last summer, however, he approached a Canadian Embassy and put his future on the line.

He asked if there were any warrants for him, or any legal barriers that would prevent him from returning to Canada to face the legal music here.

"They said flat out, ‘no,’" Patterson said." There would be no Interpol, no Europol, no warrants out there for him."

All he had to do was pay Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) an outstanding penal fee of about $4,500.

Hiebert’s father paid DFAIT the fee and the department issued Hiebert an emergency travel document and the flight details to come home.

But when he showed up at the Amsterdam Airport, Hiebert was arrested under the authority of a new warrant issued by European officials issued Aug.12, one day after his family met with Canadian officials.

Family, friends and politicians say he was set up.

"It's appalling, it's dismaying," Liberal MP Anita Neville told CBC News, adding she's taking Hiebert’s case to Parliament Friday.

Hiebert's lawyers in Amsterdam said they will fight the extradition order.

They told CBC News that Hiebert’s entire case history, from the original trial to his current arrest, is a violation of human rights.

Hiebert's extradition hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13.