Brenda Martin begs for life from Mexico prison
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, March 14, 2008 6:32PM EDT
A sobbing and broken Brenda Martin begged Friday for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take action to have her freed from the Mexican prison that has been her home for over two years.
Martin, who is incarcerated in Guadalajara on accusations of being part of a fraud scheme, called CTV's Canada AM Friday morning from jail.
"I'd like to plead for my life to the prime minister of Canada to please pick up the phone and call the president of Mexico and have this travesty ended," she said.
"I don't belong here. I have done nothing, Please help me prime minister, please help me, please help me. I don't know how to get through a day here."
Martin, 51, had recently been moved to a hospital ward and put on suicide watch, but said she has now been returned to the general population.
The native of Trenton, Ont., has denied the allegations of money laundering against her and has not been convicted of any charges.
Martin was the chef for Alyn Richard Waage, but was fired in 2001 with severance pay. She then invested that money into what she says she thought was Waage's legitimate investment company.
About one month later Wage was arrested for fraud. Then, years later in 2006, Martin was picked up by Mexican police for allegedly being involved in the scheme.
"I was kidnapped from my home on the 17th of February, told that I was being brought to do a verbal declaration to a judge at the federal courts and that I would be released the next day. I've been here for two years and 27 days," she said.
Recently, former prime minister Paul Martin visited the Canadian during a trip to Mexico. Martin called him a "wonderful man."
"At the time I was crying and he was holding my hand and he hugged me for about 10 minutes while I was sobbing uncontrollably," she said.
Martin also met with prison officials to plead for better conditions for the Canadian woman, but she said she has seen no improvement.
Martin said she is kept in a nine-foot by 12-foot cell with 11 women.
"Eight of them sleep on the floor so you have to crawl over their heads to get to an outhouse bathroom," she said.
During the phone call, Martin thanked all those who have contributed to help pay her legal fees, as well as those who have emailed their support or lobbied on her behalf, and the reporters who have covered the story.
Ottawa has sent a diplomatic note to the Mexican government and Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier has also appealed to his Mexican counterpart for the woman's release.
Helena Guergis, Canada's secretary of state for foreign affairs, said she also met with the Mexican ambassador to discuss the case. But she said the federal government has no authority to bring Martin home.
Martin's mother, Marjorie Bletcher, told CTV News on Friday that she just wants her daughter to come home.
"I'm so scared she's not gonna come home alive," she said through tears. "I just want to take her in my arms and hug her and never let her go."
Bletcher said she fears for her daughter's life.
"Help her, help her, help her, please help her before she dies ... she's not guilty," said Bletcher, whose youngest daughter was killed nine years ago in a devastating car crash.
Situation could be worse
Gar Pardy, former director general of consular affairs, told CTV Newsnet that Martin's situation could be much worse. He said few Canadians are happy with their circumstances when they find themselves jailed in a foreign prison, but he said Martin's situation could be worse.
"The outstanding thing, I think, as far as the Mexicans are concerned is the care with which they are treating Ms. Martin. She has been placed in a hospital -- there is a level of care generally not available in most prisons around the world."
Pardy also noted that the two years that Martin has been in jail is comparable to the amount of time someone could spend in a Canadian jail awaiting trial in a complicated case.
"The Mexicans are probably feeling the amount of invective that has come out of Canada about them and their system as if they have done something terribly wrong here," Pardy said.
He added: "I think if we could lower the temperature a bit I think maybe we could get a bit more speed on this case."