Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The story of Kevin Hiebert
has certainly struck a raw nerve with many.As my colleague Aldo Santin
wrote last week, Hiebert is the 33-year-old former Winnipeg resident who has spent the past seven years confined to a small cell inside a Greek prison. (See full story HERE
)Hiebert was handed a life sentence - with no chance of parole for at least 10 years - after being caught trying to smuggle two kilograms of cocaine inside several pairs of shoes.Now a group of friends and family members are trying to bring Hiebert home by lobbying the federal government to step in and pressure Greek authorities to transfer him to a much more comfy Canadian prison.They believe his punishment is excessive for a young man who made a terrible mistake in a foreign country. And they'd like to get him back on Canadian turf so he could at least get some visitors and, likely, be paroled much earlier then he will overseas.His supporters have even started up a "Free Kevin Hiebert" campaign on Facebook
, Hiebert's long-time friend, joined me on my national "Crime and Punishment"
radio show Sunday night to discuss the situation.Once we were done, the phone lines started lighting up the second I asked listeners whether they believed Hiebert had gotten a raw deal.
Not a single person called to offer their support. Everyone felt Hiebert is getting exactly what he deserves and the federal government better not waste a second lobbying on his behalf.Once I shut the calls down and moved on to another topic, the e-mails began flowing. They were all anti-Hiebert.Here's one of them, which nicely summarizes the feelings of most."Mike...Anyone who wants this creep back in Canada should:1. Put up at least $100,000 to cover costs of government people trying to get him transferred here.2. At least $100,000 per year for costs of keeping him in jail here for the rest of his Canadian incarceration.3. At least a $1 million bond that he will not get into further trouble with the law after he is let out on the streets."
Yikes.I was surprised, figuring the plight of a Canadian in a foreign prison would at least garner a bit of sympathy. Especially for a young man who's already served a sentence that would probably be longer than anything he'd get here at home for a similar crime.We probably all know someone who's been touched by drugs, and the results usually aren't pretty. And the vast majority of all criminal activity - from gangland shootouts to having your house broken into or car stolen - is connected in some way, shape or form to drugs.I don't lose much sleep worrying about fate of people who've been caught - and punished - for trying to peddle the poison. And it's clear not a lot of you do either. Let's keep the discussion going. Post your thoughts on Hiebert below - does anyone out there feel sorry for him? Think he deserves another chance? Want to see him back in Canada? You can also click HERE to vote in my latest website jury poll.