Santa Barbara resident Len Homeniuk is free to return to his Mesa home three months after his arrest in Bulgaria on what turned out to be trumped-up corruption charges.
Homeniuk was on a family river cruise in July when Bulgarian authorities detained him at the border on an Interpol Red Notice. The country of Kyrgyzstan had issued the notice, which acts as an international arrest warrant, for his involvement in a 2004 restructure deal between Kyrgyzstan and a Canadian gold mining company Homeniuk headed at the time. Kyrgyz officials claimed Homeniuk helped shortchange them in the deal, and were attempting to extradite him from Bulgaria to face criminal prosecution.
After nearly 12 weeks of court hearings and transfers between jail and house arrest, a Bulgarian judge ruled Kyrgyzstan failed to produce enough evidence to justify an extradition. The judge also questioned whether the statue of limitations for such a case had already expired, and noted Kyrgyzstan’s well-documented pattern of human rights violations within its criminal justice system.
“I’m satisfied with the court’s decision and the outcome of this whole long process,” said Homeniuk. “I am innocent — there was never a bribe or any other form of corruption. I thank the Bulgarian judges they did not comply with the request of a country that for many years has been showing no respect for the right to a fair trial and human rights.”
Homeniuk and his wife Marina, who has accompanied him through the ordeal, plan to return to the U.S. on Wednesday.