Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Stands Up for Australian 'Stabber'
The head of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the nation's most active human rights group, has described as "simply not plausible" the finding that a 23-year-old Australian man, sentenced to 20 years in jail for murder in Bulgaria, has attacked in an unprovoked way.
"It doesn't make sense that a foreigner who has come here on holidays would for no reason just pull out a knife and single-handedly attack a group of 14 or 15 men in the street," Krassimir Kanev told The Australian.
"The Bulgarian criminal justice system does not deal well with cases where there is an element of racism," he said, pointing to US and EU criticism of the legal system's treatment of Roma.
"The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Bulgarian courts in the past for not reacting properly to cases of racist violence.
"To conclude that this was a premeditated murder rather than excessive self defence means the police and prosecutors and judges disregarded the evidence that there had been an attack on some Roma."
The police did not seek CCTV footage or witnesses who might have confirmed the attack on the Roma which would have put a different complexion on the subsequent violence, Dr Kanev said.
Jock Palfreeman, 23, has been kept behind bars in a Bulgarian jail after being charged with murder after an alleged street brawl in the capital Sofia at the end of 2007.
According to Bulgarian prosecutors, who asked for life imprisonment for the defendant, Palfreeman was not provoked and did not act in self-defense, as he has claimed.
Palfreeman was also found guilty of attempted murder over the alleged stabbing of a 19-year-old man during the fight.
The Sydneysider has repeatedly denied both charges, saying he was trying to defend himself from being attacked by a group of men.
According to Jock's family, friends and supporters his verdict is a "hideous perversion of justice".
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