Outrage as Australian Paul 'Jock' Palfreeman Loses Bulgarian Appeal
CONVICTED murderer Paul "Jock" Palfreeman will continue to fight a 20-year Bulgarian jail sentence, while his family in Australia are outraged by the loss of his appeal. Palfreeman, from Sydney, was found guilty in December 2009 of fatally stabbing one man and wounding another during a street brawl in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.
The 24-year-old appealed his 20-year sentence, claiming he acted in self-defence, but yesterday his jail term was upheld.
Palfreeman's father, Simon, a Newcastle pathologist, said last night (AEDT) that news of the latest appeal decision is "absolutely outrageous".
"It is just incredible that they can issue verdicts which are so contrary to the evidence without making any attempt to explain how they can just ignore very clear evidence that Jock got caught up in the middle of a very nasty gang attack and was obviously acting in self-defence," Dr Palfreeman told The Australian online.
"The initial court's verdict ... simply ignored the fact that the evidence supported Jock's story without even trying to explain that evidence away."
Dr Palfreeman said it is "likely" that the appeal will now be taken to Bulgaria's supreme court, but the higher jurisdiction can only overturn decisions based on fresh evidence or proof of flagrant procedural flaws.
Palfreeman said he acted in self-defence on the night in December 2007 after being attacked while trying to prevent an assault by the two Bulgarian men on a group of Roma, or gypsies.
Sofia law student Monov, 20, died and his 19-year-old friend, Antoan Zahariev, was injured.
Prosecutors representing the victims' families had also appealed Palfreeman's 20-year sentence, seeking a maximum life sentence, claiming the crimes were violent.
Their appeal was also rejected by the Sofia court yesterday, with Palfreeman still to serve 20 years' prison and lucky not to have been charged with further offences.
"Jock Palfreeman was ready to attack anyone who stood in his way and if the prosecution had collected the evidence properly, it could have raised charges for an assassination attempt against other boys from the group, too," the court's appeal panel said in its decision on Monday, as reported by The Australian.
The court found that it was only after Mr Monov was stabbed that Palfreeman was pelted with rocks and slabs.
In addition to his jail sentence, Palfreeman must also cover the court costs of his appeal, along with paying 450,000 leva (1,000) compensation to Mr Monov's family and 50,000 leva ($A34,550) to Mr Zahariev.
Palfreeman has been in custody since the December 2007 attack. He has 14 days to launch a final appeal.
Dr Palfreeman said the family may also consider taking the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.
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