Man jailed in Bulgaria thrilled to be home with son
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, July 8, 2008 8:59AM EDT
After returning from a 12-year ordeal in a Bulgarian prison, British Columbia resident Michael Kapoustin said he's still glowing from the joy of being reunited with his teenage son.
"(Seeing Nick on Sunday night) was the second happiest moment of my life," said Kapoustin, who had not seen his son since the boy was two years old. "The first was being there when he was born."
The 55-year-old Penticton native landed in Vancouver on Sunday after his release from prison in Bulgaria. The courts there had found him guilty of embezzling about $4 million in 1994 and 1995 from Bulgarian investors. He has maintained his innocence.
He spent five years in pre-trial custody and was originally acquitted. Then an appeal court convicted him of a charge that he had not originally been charged with, he said.
He contends he was a "political scapegoat" whose high-profile trial was used to distract attention from corrupt elements in the government that were stealing public money.
Even after his official release, Kapoustin said he had to pay a $20,000 fee to a bureaucrat before he could get on the plane.
"The person who received that money was related to someone in the prosecutor's office," he told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday morning. "He had managed to arrange it in such a way that he literally controlled my ability to leave. It didn't make any difference I had spent 12 years in their prison."
He described the prison conditions as "below any minimum standard that any human being should be required to endure," saying he was kept in solitary confinement for almost three years.
Speaking from CTV's Vancouver studio, Kapoustin said he could hardly believe that he had returned home.
"I was staring out at Vancouver through the windows and still couldn't believe that 48 hours ago I was still wondering if I'd ever get home to see my wife and son," he said. "It was the first thing that had the biggest impact on me, to see all those wonderful Canadians I'd missed so many years."
Kapoustin spent his first full day at home catching up with his family, walking city streets and even managing to eat three steaks.
"I may manage another three before my wife Tracy tells me it's time to start doing some jogging," he said.