An Abbotsford, B.C. couple is entering the endgame of a years-long, international legal battle to see their grandchildren again.
Al and Kathy Kasatskin will appear next week before Peru’s Superior Court asking for custody of their 10- and seven-year-old grandchildren. Failing that, they’re hoping to at least get visitation rights.
The children’s father is accused of killing their mother and remains a fugitive. The children are currently living with the man’s mother in Peru.
“This being our final shot, I really, really wish this group of judges does a serious job of looking after these kids,” Al Kasaktin told Global News, Thursday.
The couple say they’ve been banned from visiting the children, and feel they aren’t getting a fair hearing in the Peruvian court system.
“We’re doing this because we loved them, and that their mother loved them more than life,” Kathy said.
“Kim died for her children. She died because she stayed there for her children.”
Kimberlee Kasatkin was last seen alive on Nov. 26, 2016.
Her partner Christopher Franz Bettocchi has been charged with femicide — the killing of a woman — under Peruvian law.
Kimberlee’s body was never found, but surveillance video depicting Bettocchi dragging a heavy bag was played in court.
It’s alleged Kimberlee’s body was in the bag. Bettocchi denies that and claims it was filled with camping equipment.
Bettocchi’s whereabouts are unknown, and his criminal trial cannot proceed until he’s found.
In the years since Kimberlee’s disappearance, her parents have visited Peru 17 times, draining their retirement savings.
The couple had intended to take an 18th trip to attend the upcoming Dec. 9 court proceedings in person, but COVID-19 has rendered that impossible.
They’ll now attend by video link.
“My heart doesn’t give up, but it’s like banging your head into a brick wall,” Kathy said.
“I’m exhausted from it. We’ve had so many trips and so many frustrations,” Al said.
“It’s time to just say we did what we can. And I accept that I’ve given up. I feel bad about it, but at the same time, this can’t go on.”