Help Save What's Left of My Life


'Help save what's left of my life'
B.C. dad sees no end of jail fights, beatings, meals of garbage
Susan LazarukThe Province
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CREDIT: Ric Ernst, The ProvinceJessica Kimber holds a family photo of her father Peter Kimber.MEXICO - A B.C. construction worker jailed for more than two years in Mexico over a building contract that went sour says he's been wrongly imprisoned by a corrupt system.
"Get me out of here," a frustrated Peter Kimber said yesterday from his prison cell in Huatulco, where he suffers from kidney problems and other ill health.
He said he has endured dozens of beatings and atrocious conditions because he can't pay bribes to get out.
"I want somebody to actually help save what's left of my life," he said. "I've tried it on my own for two years and four months. There's absolutely no way for a human being to fight against these people legally."
Kimber, 44, lived in Mission before moving to Mexico in 2001 with his then common-law wife, her four daughters and his three children from a previous marriage.
He said he was arrested on Oct. 15, 2004, after a couple from the U.K. reneged on a contract to have Kimber build them a home.
He said Kevin and Tess Hunneybell, who run the Oaxaca Hotel bed-and-breakfast in Huatulco, had him arrested for fraud.
The Hunneybells couldn't be reached for comment.
Kimber related the horrors of living in inhumane conditions, where "dog-eat-dog" fights over food are common because prisoners are given $25 a month to buy food, drinking water, clothing and toiletries.
"I never envisioned eating out of garbage cans that people have been spitting in all day or beating the living hell out of someone because I want his food," he said.
Kimber estimated he's been in 150 fights and was stabbed by a blood-filled syringe during a jail robbery.
He said money he's paid for bribes to get out of the prison has been wasted and he's been asked to sign blank documents and confessions to crimes he didn't commit.
His family was deported back to Canada after his arrest.
It never occurred to Kimber or his eldest daughter, Jessica, 21, who is caring for her brother, 17, and Julia, 15, in Abbotsford to go to the media before now, he said.
Jessica said she and her siblings are torn apart by their dad's imprisonment and they send him money for food when they can.
"You just don't know if every time you talk to him if it's going to be the last time," she said.
It was a chance meeting his daughters had with North Vancouver author and radio personality Anne Marie Evers at a women's fair in Abbotsford last October that put the spotlight on Kimber's case.
Evers told her friend, John Joseph Kennedy, an entrepreneur who is running as a Democrat for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
Kennedy, who with his sister had helped free their brother from a wrongful conviction in Thailand in the 1990s, kicked into action.
He set up a website, (external - login to view), and fired off letters to the prison warden demanding an end to Kimber's ill treatment and to the International Criminal Court.
"It just made me furious the way he's been treated," Kennedy said from his Georgia home. "It's one of the cruelest injustices toward humanity. It's turned into a nightmare. It's so corrupt in that area of Mexico, with rioting and violence, it's a dangerous place. I knew I had to go over the heads of the government."
Canadian Foreign Affairs sent a representative on Jan. 21 to "follow up on the health and security issues," said spokesman Alain Cacchione. He would not elaborate.
Lawyer Peter Benning, a friend of Kimber's, said it's up to Canada to pressure the Mexican government.
He said the situation is urgent because jail authorities are acting with increasing aggression toward Kimber every time he speaks out.
Kimber's imprisonment "came out of a business disagreement, the kind of thing that would be resolved in small-claims court in Canada and he's been in jail for two years and four months and it's not even clear if he's had a trial yet," Benning said.
Mauricio Guerrero, press attache at the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa, said unless the Canadian authorities ask for concrete action, the embassy would not get involved because the dispute is in the jurisdiction of local Mexican authorities. (external - login to view)
Mexico isn't getting the greatest of press these days in Canada. It seems Canadian tourists are killed their monthly and now their are imprisoning one of our citizens over a civil dispute... lovely.
They'll take your money if you have lots to offer and drop the charges....
Again this is a country that enjoys - like China - our attention and business. I don't know why. We live in a weird other-world where we constantly mouth standards we refuse to practise.
It seems like a very unusual situation and research on the topic does provide information that this man was convicted of fraud. He claims that he needs $20.000 for a bribe to be released from jail. Oaxaca is in the centre of Mexico and not terribly foreigner friendly. It is a holiday location for Mexicans and has a fantastic radish festival at Christmas. Travelling in the area is very dangerous and when there was an uprising by the Indians in 1994, it started just outside of Oaxaca with bridges blown up and similar problems. I was stuck on a bus that couldn't cross the bridge and just by luck there was an ice cream truck stuck in traffic with us. They started handing out free ice cream to everyone. Cock roaches crawl up the walls of even the best restaurants and the hotels turn you away, then decide that you look okay, call you back and give you a room.

I understand that this man had a contract to build a house for a British couple and as a result of fraud allegations, he was arrested, convicted and is now jailed. Unfortunately, that's the end of the information regarding what happened.

Reading this: "He said he was arrested on Oct. 15, 2004, after a couple from the U.K. reneged on a contract to have Kimber build them a home" I become confused. If the couple reneged on the contract, where is the fraud? Is it possible that he was accused of fraud and then they reneged, or cancelled, the contract? If that's the case, why is it stated that they reneged on the deal; making them appear in the wrong, and then he was arrested? Something is missing from this story.

I have to wonder why the facts of the case are not made available. Additionally, I did read a news report that the Canadian gov't did investigate and had no comment.

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