W hile others might have celebrated Valentine´s Day, the 14th of February was celebrated by Charles Lewis Cornelius for other reasons. The 56-year-old who is suffering from H.I.V. completed his last days of his prison sentence he gained for trying to smuggle 17 kilos and 211 grams of cocaine hydrochloride from Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima in the local hospital Víctor Ramos Guardia due to health problems.
The editor of The Huaraz Telegraph paid the father of eight children a visit and asked how he felt. We were informed that Lewis thought to be released at five o´clock in the afternoon but that due to some paperwork this might take a little longer. The South African also said to feel strong and ready to face new challenges. Lewis was referring to the payment of his civil repair fee that was set at 15.000 soles (U$D 4,575.96) by the second criminal chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of Callao (Lima) back in February 2005. Additionally, Mr. Cornelius will have to pay his overdue migration fees which are set at 1 U$D per day. Taken in account that he has been overdue for more than 11 years; this adds another estimate U$D 4,015.00 to the bill before he can leave the country. Once that the fines are paid and a one way ticket out of the country is bought, he will be officially expelled and may not return to Peru for a period of 10 years.
The South African furthermore said to contact his embassy which have done him no good during his time behind bars. As he stated on earlier occasions, Mr. Cornelius was heavily upset with the acting of the South African Embassy as they refused to visit him. Once on the other side of the walls, Lewis said to look for a hotel room for a couple of nights and enjoy a warm shower and have a couple of good meals.
Since his first time in 2012, the editor of The Huaraz Telegraph has visited the Víctor Perez Liendo prison on numerous occasions and has helped Lewis with goods, books, clothes and some pocket money. During those five years, Lewis always appreciated our visits and never caused any trouble. Nonetheless, a visit to the penitentiary cannot be compared, perhaps it´s much easier and more interesting to go to the zoo or an amusement park on a free Sunday.
At The Huaraz Telegraph we would like to thank those few readers (tourists) who have visited Lewis during his imprisonment because of an article we ran on him during the past five years. Although Lewis was not the only foreigner in Víctor Perez Liendo, he suffered a lot and lost a lot of weight. Unless some other foreigner in Huaraz becomes a jailbird one day, we will probably never set foot on the inside. Our story on Lewis ends, but his has just begun, again.
Picture: Lewis with his favourite nurse in the VRG Hospital in Huaraz on the day of his release