Proper review and re-trial at European standards for Jock Palfreeman
  • Petitioned Roger Camilleri

This petition was delivered to:

European Union delegation to Australia
Roger Camilleri
Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria - Canberra, Australia
Ambassador of Bulgaria
Prime Minister of Australia
Julia Gillard
London Office
Amnesty International
Western Office
Amnesty International USA
Mid-Atlantic Office
Amnesty International USA
Attorney-General of Australia
Nicola Roxon
The Australian Greens
The Australian Greens
Australian Human Rights Commission
Professor Gillian Triggs

Proper review and re-trial at European standards for Jock Palfreeman

    1. Patrick Kelly
    2. Petition by

      Patrick Kelly

      Surry Hills, Australia

Background
In the early hours of 28 December 2007, 21 year-old Jock and a couple of friends were in Sofia enjoying a night out when Jock witnessed an attack on a young Roma man by a large group of what he understood to be football hooligans. Jock went to help the victim and was then surrounded and attacked by the group. In the subsequent melee, two of the group were wounded, one fatally.

The police arrived on the scene and arrested Jock taking him to the police station where he was questioned and then placed in detention. The police did not search members of the group and did not secure the whole crime scene.

Since late December 2007, Jock has been an inmate of Sofia Prison while he and his family have been desperately working for a fair hearing from the Bulgarian justice system.

The Trial
Jock’s trial started on 21 May 2008 and ran until 2 December 2009 over 19 sessions. Many court sessions were shortened or aborted when witnesses (including expert witnesses) did not appear or on several occasions, when one of the judging panel was on holidays. Despite the delays and deficiencies in the investigation, critical evidence was collected that supported Jock’s version of events.

The essential difference between the prosecution and defence cases was the beating of the Roma boy by the group before the two men from the group were wounded. The prosecution denied this ever happened (based solely on the group’s own evidence).

In May 2010, 5 months after delivering his verdict, the judge finally handed down a written explanation of the verdict. While acknowledging that all the oral and expert evidence (except Jock’s) was “truthful” and admissible, he determined that it supported the group’s version of what happened that night. The court did not provide any reasons to explain the detailed defence arguments which supported Jock’s version and outlined the false evidence given by the group.

The Appeal
The first session of Jock’s appeal was held on 21 October 2010, before three Appeal Court judges. A number of requests were put forward by the defence but only one was accepted. This was a request to re-question five witnesses to explain the discrepancies in their previous testimonies. Two of the witnesses were from the group that attacked the Roma and Jock. The other three were policemen. All five witnesses had stated in their original police statements that there was a fight between the group and Roma and yet during the first trial denied ever having said this.

The Appeal concluded on 19 January 2011 after 5 sessions and a written decision (in Bulgarian) was released in February 2011. Despite their acceptance that there was a fight between the group and Roma prior to Jock confronting the group, the Appeal court upheld the original decision of the Sofia City Court that found Jock guilty of murder with hooliganism and sentenced him to 20 years. In supporting the original decision and verdict the Appeal Court has also ignored key evidence, failed to provide reasons for rejecting the main defence arguments and refused defence requests to review critical forensic and CCTV evidence.

Jock’s final avenue for justice within Bulgaria was the Court of Cassation and his case was heard on 16 May 2011. The verdict was published by the Court in Bulgarian on 27 July 2011. The Court of Cassation upheld the decision of the previous appeal courts

Recent signatures

    News

    1. part 3

      Patrick Kelly
      Petition Organizer

      Foreigners are not given parole," he said.
      "The Bulgarian groups are treated one way, then the foreigners are treated differently and then from the foreigners I'm treated even worse. I'm like the scum of the scum." The parents of the murdered man have said Palfreeman was a danger to society who deserved a life sentence without parole.
      A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government would not assist the Palfreeman family with the debt. A spokesman for the Attorney-General's department could not elaborate on the status of transfer negotiations "due to the confidential nature of transfer applications".
      The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice has not responded to a request for comment. Palfreeman lost his final appeal in 2011 but has since lodged an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights.
      While it is expected to take up to five years to make a ruling, Palfreeman is working to set up Bulgaria's first ever Prisoners' Union.

    2. part 2

      Patrick Kelly
      Petition Organizer

      Friends of the dead man who witnessed the incident also contradicted their original police statements during court testimonies.
      Palfreeman's father, Simon Palfreeman, says the debt has been accruing at around 15 to 20per cent a year – and is now about $600,000. "At this stage we would do whatever we could to get Jock back because I think the longer he stays there, the harder it will be to get him out," he said.
      The director of the human rights group the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Dr Krassimir Kanev, says Palfreeman's best option is to pay the money. "Compared to prisons that I have seen in former Soviet Union ... such as Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, I would think the Bulgarian prisons are worse even compared to those."
      Palfreeman was 15 days into a hunger strike when Australian journalists were allowed into the small cell he shares with up to eight men. "[In Bulgaria, foreigners] are legally eligible for everything but they don't give it to us.

    3. News article from the Sydney Morning Herald

      Patrick Kelly
      Petition Organizer

      AN AUSTRALIAN imprisoned in Bulgaria say he is being "held for ransom" after authorities rejected an Australian government request for him to complete his sentence in Australia. Jock Palfreeman, 25, was found guilty of "murder with hooliganism" after fatally stabbing Bulgarian law student Andrei Monov, 20, in the capital Sofia in December 2007. In 2009, a Bulgarian court ordered Palfreeman to pay the equivalent of $252,000 in compensation to his victims and their families.
      Palfreeman has told journalists visiting him in Sofia Central Prison the Bulgarian government has officially denied an Australian government request to transfer him. "Essentially I'm being held for ransom," he said. "If family and friends pay [the money] then I can transfer to Australia legally."
      Palfreeman was convicted of the murder despite allegations crucial CCTV footage and witnesses went missing, and forensic evidence suggesting the fatal blow did not come from his knife.

    4. Reached 50 signatures
    5. 35 supporters and growning !!!!

      Patrick Kelly
      Petition Organizer

      Yes - the ball is rolling, please forward this to all your friends, to keep the petition going. Also if anyone can suggest some editing to the petition letter, such as making more of a plea for action, please make suggestions

    6. Reached 25 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Matthew Anthony BELGRADE, SERBIA
      • about 2 years ago

      Everyone has the right to a democratic hearing. Conflicting statements and lack of corroborating evidence have tarnished the judicial process.

      Monov was allegedly stabbed from behind. Was anyone else questioned? It seems Palfreeman was the assumed transgressor from the start.

      There is far too much doubt to squarely point the finger at the accused, while evidence suggests a member of the skinheads potentially landed the fatal blow.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Antonia Hildebrand TOOWOOMBA, AUSTRALIA
      • about 2 years ago

      Jock Palfreeman had a trial that was simply a farce. His trial was completely unjust, and involved destruction and alteration of evidence including witness statements. His sentence is manifestly unjust as is the crime he was charged with, since he acted in self defence.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • haley asquith PAGEWOOD, AUSTRALIA
      • about 2 years ago

      This man deserves justice and through this particular case it doesn't seem as though it has been granted, no fingerprints on the knife, where is the other roma and what is their story, the knife was single bladed, and did the victim fall onto the knife. Jock deserves to be free, in Australia if the same thing happened it would be classified as self defence, there is not enough evidence in this case for conviction. This man must be freed and justice will in turn be served.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Kim Arnot SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      I know Jock is innocent!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Linda Saro WEST NEWBURY, MA
      • over 2 years ago

      This is OUTRAGEOUS. This young man should be celebrated for stepping in when most look away! I wish we could do more for him!!!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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