Bulgarian Court Postpones Again Len Homeniuk Extradition Hearing
A Bulgarian court has postponed for a second time the hearing on a request for the extradition of Leonard Homeniuk submitted by the Kyrgyz authorities due to insufficient documentation they had provided.
Homeniuk, a dual Canadian and United States citizen, was detained in Bulgaria’s Danube city of Vidin on July 27 on an Interpol Red Notice placed by the Kyrgyz authorities. They claim that Homeniuk, a former CEO of Toronto-based Centerra Gold, one of the world's leading gold mining companies, was allegedly involved in shady deals with Kyrgyz officials during a restructuring process at Kumtor, the largest gold mine in Kyrgyzstan in 2003-2004.
Homeniuk, who remains under house arrest in Sofia, has denied any wrongdoing and insists that the charges brought against him by the Kyrgyz authorities are politically motivated.
On August 27, Vidin Regional Court postponed the extradition hearing for the first time, 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. The hearing was set for September 16.
On Monday, the court in Vidin decided at a closed-door session to postpone the extradition hearing again, to October 7 this time, after the Kyrgyz authorities submitted only part of the additional documents the Bulgarian court had asked them to. More specifically, the Kyrgyz authorities have failed to prove that the statute of limitations hasn't expired for the alleged wrongdoing’s Homenuik had been charged with.
“Once again the Kyrgyz authorities have demonstrated that they have no respect for democratic practices and have no intention to provide a fair trial to Len – starting from the very short and incomplete documents accompanying their extradition request, which contain no evidence, to yet another failure to send all documents reqested by the Bulgarian court,” defense lawyer Anna Rizova said in a statement. “In this way they sabotage court proceedings and this inevitably curbs Len’s rights.”
Homeniuk’s wife Marina Stephens has said that a Kyrgyz court had dismissed all the charges against Kyrgyz citizens in the case because the statute of limitations had expired.
“But not against Len - he is now the only person facing these charges,” Marina Stephens told Novinite in an interview earlier this month.
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