On Tuesday, Canadian law firm Amsterdam & Peroff announced that it has produced a website about its pro-bono client Michael Kapoustin, a citizen of Canada who has been languishing in a Bulgarian prison since he was convicted to 17 years in prison on what his defense team insists were false charges of embezzlement, fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering.
The website has been created to coincide with a new level of government talks about the prisoner transfer treaty between the two nations.
Article 23 of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons to initiate mediation has been invoked by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who, after over a year of constant contact, has not been able to secure Kapoustin’s release and extradiction to Canada.
The website allegedly shows violations of Kapoustin’s basic due process and fundamental rights in the trial, torture, solitary confinement, cruel and unusual treatment in prison, and the irresponsible conduct of a number of former government officials.
“For so many years, the family has been told to keep quiet about these injustices while numerous promises to bring Michael home were repeatedly broken. The time has come to speak up,” said international lawyer Dean Peroff of Amsterdam & Peroff.
Michael Kapoustin’s wife, Tracy, has been raising their 14-year-old son alone for most of the boy’s life as a result of the imprisonment.
Kapoustin, now 55, was a millionaire entrepreneur. He became very influential in Bulgarian business circles in the early 1990s as Communism collapsed and Capitalism began to flourish in the Eastern European nations.
Kapoustin’s businesses included oil, importing & exporting, and AIDS treatment research.
He and his defense team maintain that the fraudulent charges were brought against Kapoustin to carry out anonymous threats that he could only avoid if he quit his businesses and fled Bulgaria, threats he began receiving in 1994.
Interpol and the Bulgarian government were convinced that he had hidden his millions from taxation by placing it in illegal offshore accounts or sending it all back to Canada. However, they have never been able to locate the money.
Some critics of the current Canadian government, however, are of the opinion that Kapoustin is receiving special treatment because, as a high-profile businessman, he has symbolic and economic importance to the government. They claim that there are several other Canadian prisoners being held abroad, including some in the United States, who have reasonable grounds to be returned to Canada but who the government is refusing to have freed.
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