Australian Jock Palfreeman Granted Parole After 11 Years In Bulgarian Prison
Australian man Jock Palfreeman has been granted parole after serving more than 11 years in Bulgarian prison for murder.
Palfreeman, 32, has been incarcerated since December 2007 when he was charged with murder of law student Andrei Monov and attempted murder of Antoan Zahariev. He was found guilty in 2009 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
Palfreeman has always maintained he was coming to the aid of a Roma man, who was being attacked by a group of drunken youths in Sofia.
He's still in prison waiting for documentation to be released, but his father, Dr Simon Palfreeman, told Radio National he expects his son will be released into immigration detention and deported back to Australia.
"Even though we knew this was always a possibility at some stage, no one was able to tell us what was likely to happen if they do get him parole," Palfreeman said.
In a "quirky" Bulgarian law, Simon Palfreeman said he and his son were both able to cross-examine the witnesses, and it "became very evident very early on that there was a lot of lying going on, with both the prosecution and the witnesses."
In her book, Every Parent's Nightmare, journalist Belinda Hawkins described the court case as affected by "all the hallmarks of the Bulgarian criminal justice system", marred by undue influence, incompetence, and a lack of rigour and fairness.
Monov's father, psychologist and politician Hristo Monov, has described Palfreeman as a "sociopath who came from the other end of the world to kill people in the centre of Sofia".
Simon says there's been "never any doubt in my mind that what Jock did on that night was to go and help the Roma boy being beaten by that gang."
The road to parole has been long: Jock withdrew his application for parole last year after Hristo Monov mounted a protest outside the courthouse, threatening violence if Jock walked free. After applying again, the first instance court rejected his application.
"The appeal court's decision is final," Bulgaria Helsinki Committee President Dr Krassimir Kanev said.
"It's a just decision. There is no reason for Jock Palfreeman not to be released on parole."
Palfreeman's case has garnered international attention and support. During his time, he has become a strong advocate for prisoner's rights, helping establish the Bulgarian Prisoner's Rehabilitation Association.
Simon also told Radio National he has some fears for his son's safety, but is now just focused on getting him home.
"The good thing is, this judgement can't be appealed, it stands, and it's just a matter of hopefully getting him out of there."
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