Palfreeman's Father Slams Investigation in Bulgaria

Crime | December 2, 2009, Wednesday // 17:37| Views: | Comments: 71
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Bulgaria: Palfreeman's Father Slams Investigation in Bulgaria The Sydneysider has repeatedly denied the charges, saying he was trying to defend himself from being attacked by a group of men. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The father of 23-year-old Sydneysider Jock Palfreeman, who was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by a Bulgarian court, has harshly criticized the verdict and the investigation that preceded it.

“The sentence was delivered following an investigation, marred by a number of procedural violations,” Simon Palfreeman told journalists after the hearing.

The Sydney pathologist flew to Sofia to support his son and made a direct appeal to the court.

The 23-year-old had gone to the aid of a gypsy being assaulted by a group of drunk football fans, Dr. Palfreeman said.

"This is an act that can only be described as heroic," he said.

"While as a parent I would have preferred he stayed safe and out of harm's way, as a human being I am proud a young man tried to help despite such dangerous circumstances."

The emotional appeal came as prosecutors asked for Palfreeman to be given a life sentence if he is convicted and the alleged victim's family called the Australian a "professional killer".

On December 27, 2007, the former St Ignatius Riverview student was on a night out in Sofia when he became involved in a violent confrontation.

How the fight started is a key area of contention, with Palfreeman claiming he went to help gypsies who were being assaulted by a gang of up to 25 drunk football fans.

Surrounded by the men, he said he was forced to produce a knife that he carried because of six previous incidents in which people had pulled knives on him in Bulgaria.

University law student Andrei Monov, 20, the son of a prominent police psychologist, suffered a stab wound and died.

Three others were also injured, including 19-year-old Anton Zahariev, who suffered multiple knife puncture wounds.

The group of local men denied assaulting anyone and said that it was Palfreeman who lashed out at them.

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Tags: Palfreeman, sofia, Murder, trial, life sentence
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» To the forumComments (71)
FIGMENT - 4 Dec 2009 // 15:41:35


" I have. I've stated the position. If you don't agree with it, that's your right, but putting still more pages on this forum about it isn't going to change anything."

Quite right. The only thing that will change anything is when more information becomes available to us through the media. Then we can argue about that. lol

Bill - 4 Dec 2009 // 15:38:13


"Well then, feel free to stop arguing at any time."

I have. I've stated the position. If you don't agree with it, that's your right, but putting still more pages on this forum about it isn't going to change anything.

FIGMENT - 4 Dec 2009 // 15:33:57


"There's no point in arguing. Neither of us can have any influence on what's happening. We may only observe it."

Well then, feel free to stop arguing at any time.

"The existence of CCTV pictures doesn't necessarily mean that they haven't been doctored, edited, or otherwise manipulated to serve the purpose of the media."

By whom? The police who has the tapes in their possession?

"Your blind hatred for Islam would also mean that if the accused were a muslim you'd be for hanging him from the nearest tree, even if he were innocent."

There is no such a thing as an innocent Muslim. Just by virtue of being a member of that backward and violent cult you are guilty. Abandon Islam and I will have some respect for you.

Bill - 4 Dec 2009 // 15:28:37


There's no point in arguing. Neither of us can have any influence on what's happening. We may only observe it.

The existence of CCTV pictures doesn't necessarily mean that they haven't been doctored, edited, or otherwise manipulated to serve the purpose of the media. From our viewing point, we can make decisions based upon that, but you can bet the court didn't. You're still arguing from an emotional point of view, and that isn't the way the courts operate.

Your blind hatred for Islam would also mean that if the accused were a muslim you'd be for hanging him from the nearest tree, even if he were innocent.

FIGMENT - 4 Dec 2009 // 15:20:04


Don't get your pink lacy panties in a twist. We are not arguing the case, we are arguing the information as it becomes available in the media.

At first, it looked like this Aussie psycho killer just attacked some Nice Bulgarian boys with a knife, killed one and injured another one. It even looked like he went after them and stabbed them in the back.

As more information became available, we learned that this Aussie boy went to the aid of a stranger who was getting beaten up by a gang of drunk Bulgarian football hooligans. The imbecile who got killed had a very high blood alcohol level. Maybe that's what killed him in the end, not so much the knife wounds. How much alcohol do you have to have in your blood to die? I bet he was close to that.

It turns out that there are CCTV tapes showing the action exactly the way the Aussie reported it. The eye witnesses corroborate his story as well. This means the Bulgarian hooligans and their parents are lying through their teeth. There is also the matter of a few hundred thousand euros they stand to gain if the Aussie is found guilty. How much of this blood money is going to end up in the judge's wallet I wonder?

Bill - 4 Dec 2009 // 14:30:23


Let me put it in simpler terms: No court is going to base its findings on what it reads in the papers.

Bill - 4 Dec 2009 // 14:26:36


"We are arguing the facts of the case AS PRESENTED BY THE MEDIA, not the actual facts"

Again you're missing the point. Who cares how the media presented the case? It's how the facts of the case were presented in court which is important, not how the media reported them.

We have the facts as reported by the media, yes, but the court has other informaiton which I'm sure wasn't repaorted.

That's what DrFaust was trying to get across when he said to wait and see what comes out of the appeal.

Bill - 4 Dec 2009 // 14:23:20


"Yeah, the Lockerbie bomber comes to mind."

Well, at least now you're beginning to understand what's at stake here. There is a much bigger thing involved than the particulars of any one case.

I'm sure--at least from what I read here--that the Bulgarian judicial system is in bad need of overhauling, but that's a separate issue. What I was trying to do is draw the comparison between the cases, in order to make the principles involved more clear.

In the case in question, we already have an accused who's been tried and convicted under the laws of the country where the trial took place. There's nothing we can do about that. Naturally, there'll be an appeal, but that, too, will take place under the laws of the country of jurisdiction.

The hypothetical question here is what is Bulgaria's reaction to a request for the accused to return to Australia to "serve out his sentence" going to be, in light of having already done that once and had it's sentence overruled. It's a coincidence that both accused are British subjects, but that only complicates things, because of the precedent set by the prior case.

I imagine if the US sent back the bombers of the World Trade Center, they'd be welcomed as heroes somewhere.

FIGMENT - 4 Dec 2009 // 14:06:56


" A lot of what I was reading on the forum was arguing the facts of the case."

We are arguing the facts of the case AS PRESENTED BY THE MEDIA, not the actual facts. We are assuming that what we read in the media is factual, such as the CCTV tapes showing the action or the eye witness accounts from people who were present during the brawl.

FIGMENT - 4 Dec 2009 // 14:01:46


" If we had sent a convicted Libyan back to Libya, and he got pardoned there, we'd have the same complaint, wouldn't we?"

Yeah, the Lockerbie bomber comes to mind. That screw ball Quaddafi met him and greeted him like he was a hero. Quaddafi is the single best reason to nuke the Middle East.

Bill - 4 Dec 2009 // 10:15:32


"The West doesn't recognize Sharia law. Libya has bad religion and bad laws. We don't respect them."

That's not the issue. The issue is one of jurisdiction. No court is going to respect your opinion on the religion of the country anyway. You might be called to testify in such a case if that were at issue, but your opinion wouldn't be controlling.

You can't dismiss a foreign country's jurisdiction over its own courts.

If we had sent a convicted Libyan back to Libya, and he got pardoned there, we'd have the same complaint, wouldn't we?

Bill - 4 Dec 2009 // 10:06:51


A lot of what I was reading on the forum was arguing the facts of the case. What I was trying to do is relate those facts to a similar situation, a common practice of lawyers, known as a "precedent". I'm sure you know what that means.

What I laid out was what the court would consider. You folks with superior kowledge in other areas are free to discuss what you want.

I don't expect the readers of this forum to know the details of proving elements, so I laid that out. In that respect, yes, I am better equipped to do that, unless any forum member is a lawyer. At least I have been educated in that field. My diploma from the school reads "with dstinction", so figure I did rather well.

So, as Nellie would say, "Don't get your knickers in a twist". I war trying to help, out when you come up on the forum and ask why my opinion is any better than anyone elses, when I'm trying to help people understand things they might well not be grounded in, I'd question which one of us is the more arrogant.

DrFaust - 4 Dec 2009 // 08:53:59


as stated earlier, I am well aware of the defaults of the Bulgarian bureaucracy or the juridical system. But from my personal contacts with expatriates in Bulgaria, I can also assure you that in many cases it is a popular excuse of certain people to blame the Bulgarian legal system or bureaucracy as a whole and without differentiation for their own shortcomings or when things don't turn out the way they would like to.

One example: everything related to visa applications and/or residence permits is usually a quite boring and frequently annoying experience. I heard several times from expatriates (in all cases from the UK coincidentally) how incorrect, stupid and unfair or even illegal the Bulgarian practise regarding resident permits is. When I inquired in one case, I learned the following:

A businessman from the UK had business partners in Bulgaria which he subcontracted in order to outsource his production. He complained bitterly that he was not granted permanent or long term residence and had always to leave after three months. He said that this was illegal and that the Bulgarians are stupid and I don't know what.

When I explained him that it is quite simple to get a long term or permanent residence when you provide certain documents (I got mine on the same day when I submitted the documents without bribing and without using contacts to people in higher places), he called this a terrible bureaucracy and that he doesn't give a damn about it.

I tried also in vain to explain him that in his case the Bulgarian authorities did just correctly apply the law, and since he was neither in education or retired, nor owning property or a company, nor being married to a local, nor having the status of a registered trade representative, he had legally just the status of a tourist who can stay up to three months in the country. But he expected that the law shouldn't be applied in his case, because he was such a special case. On the other hand he was not interested to provide documents that proved this. He expected that the authorities do him a favour and infringe the law, and since they didn't, he called the Bulgarian legal system and bureaucracy illegal and ridiculous.

I have experienced this kind of reaction from certain expatriates in Bulgaria more than once, although I don't want to generalize. All I want to say is that there are many people around that think because they are foreigners, the rules are not for them. And it is easy to blame Bulgaria for all their own defaults, because the system is far from being perfect, but when we have a closer look we will realize that frequently this slamming of Bulgaria is a cheap shot and cannot hide the fact that it is in many cases not justified.

DrFaust - 4 Dec 2009 // 08:16:31


when you look at the cases that go to the European Human Rights Couirt, you will realize that in all countries there are problems with the juridical system. No country in Europe has a juridical system that is free from defaults, and unfair trials can possibly happen everywhere. This is human. According to the statistics published by the European Rights Court, Bulgaria has very rarely problems with the violation of the rights of the defendant and the assurance of a fair trial.

What I find not very productive is to argue about a case in which the last word hasn't been said. As pointed out earlier, I think it will be interesting to see the outcome. But I think you are victim of a logical fallacy here when you give the impression that each verdict of a Bulgarian court is not according the law and is violating the defendants rights. I have also visited a few cases (not this one) in Bulgaria, I am fluent in Bulgarian, and I was with a friend who is a lawyer. I can assure you that in most cases, the courts are working strictly according to procedures. Ok, bribery and attempts to influence the court happen, but this is not a particular Bulgarian problem.

Robin - 4 Dec 2009 // 07:15:39


I don't frequent these forums as often as I used but I had forgotten how arogant you can be. You are saying by virtue of your age and experience in an american court you opinion is more valid than mine (and presumably that of all the others on this forum). Who's the one making a mockery of debate?

"Now if you want to criticize the Bulgarian courts, go ahead, but don't tell me my opinion is worthless. It's at least based on practice."

I didn't say that so don't read between the lines when there is nothing to read. I said your opinion is no more valid than mine, not that it is worthless. Unless of course you are saying that my opinion is worthless in which case that would make your opinion worthless too.

"As to kowledge of this particular case, I've read the same reports the rest of you have, but I dare think that I'm a little better equipped--through practice--to analyze the cases and see the comparisons therein."

You're the one who brought up the Shields case. No on else even mentioned it. And, no I don't think your better equipped to analyse what you read in the media. If you had the court proceedings in front of you, were fluent in Bulgarian and had actually sat in a BG court then that would be true. But you haven't, so it is not. It is very arogant to presuppose you are more qualified to ananlyse stuff than others.

"Most of the complaining I see seems to stem from a lack of respect--for lack of a better word--for the Bulgarian judicial system, and I'm not in a position to assess that."

Exactly. That is what most of us are arguing about. The quality of BG justice. And it's not just a few novinite layabouts slamming it. It is the EU and pretty much every NGO in BG. I suppose your opinion is more valid than theirs?

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