Bulgarian Court Leaves Len Homeniuk Under House Arrest, Extradition Hearing Set for Sept 16
Sofia Appeals Court has decided that Leonard Homeniuk, a dual Canadian and United States citizen detained in Bulgaria, should remain under house arrest while awaiting a court hearing on an extradition request submitted by the Kyrgyz authorities.
Homeniuk, 68, was detained in police custody in Vidin, Bulgaria, on July 27 on an Interpol Red Notice placed with the international police organization by the Kyrgyz authorities. No evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Homeniuk was presented by Kyrgyzstan’s prosecuting authorities at the time, neither was there information whether any criminal charges had been brought against him in the central Asian country. He was later placed under house arrest in Sofia.
Leonard Homeniuk is a former CEO of Toronto-based Centerra Gold, one of the world's leading gold mining companies. He held the post between 2004 and 2008. Between 2003 and 2004 he also led a project for the restructuring of Kumtor, the largest gold mine in Kyrgyzstan.
“The detention appears to be related to claims by the Kyrgyz Republic authorities of alleged improper transactions with Kyrgyz officials in connection with the restructuring of the Kumtor project in the 2003-2004 time period,” the gold miner said last month.
The Sofia Appeals Court on Thursday rejected the arguments of the defense, who asked for a more lenient measure of restraint, citing Homeniuk’s poor health and lengthy extradition procedure. The court decided to leave Homeniuk under house arrest. According to the court, the restraining measure is in line with the extradition procedure and the procedure itself hasn’t lasted longer than normal.
Homeniuk faces an extradition hearing on September 16. On August 27, Vidin Regional Court postponed the hearing, saying that the Kyrgyz authorities hadn’t provided enough information to justify the detention of Homeniuk and asked them to submit additional documents to back their extradition request by September 10.
Leonard Homeniuk has expressed optimism about the outcome of the extradition hearing.
“I’m optimistic at the end of the day that Bulgaria will recognize not only my innocence but the fact that the Kyrgyz Republic is a place that is well known for its human rights violations,” the Wall Stret Journal quoted Homeniuk as saying by phone from the apartment in Sofia where he is held under house arrest.
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