A lawyer who once represented the father of a Winnipeg man who has spent the last 15 years in a Greek prison is "elated" at reports Kevin Hiebert is now free and back in Canada.
CBC reported that Hiebert arrived at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday afternoon. He was arrested in 1999 and convicted for trying to smuggle cocaine through the Netherlands.
The next years were full of legal battles as Hiebert tried to get his sentence transferred to Canada, but was denied first by Greek authorities, then by Canadian authorities.
Lawyer Michael Mercury advised Hiebert’s father Dick while the case was ongoing. He had not heard Thursday about Hiebert’s return to Canada but said it was great news.
"Hallelujah, he’s back. That’s wonderful... he should have been back a long time ago," Mercury said.
The frustration of not getting Hiebert back into Canada took a huge toll on the family, he said. Hiebert’s parents separated and Hiebert’s mother suffered a nervous breakdown after Hiebert’s sentencing. She died of leukemia in 2012.
"The poor woman never got to see her son out of a Greek prison... it had a disastrous effect on the family," he said.
When Hiebert was in prison, Mercury said he told him to be a model prisoner to make any appeal or transfer easier. From what Mercury heard, that’s what Hiebert did.
"He learned how to speak Greek, he learned how to cook Greek, and he was cooking in the penitentiary and they loved him," Mercury said.
Hiebert was 26 when he was arrested and is now in his mid-40s.