Aussie Murder Sentence Said to Mock Bulgarian Victim Memory
A young Bulgarian man, who was wounded by Australian Jock Palfreeman in a 2007 street brawl in Sofia, leaving another dead, has slammed the twenty-year jail sentence as "mockery".
"The sentence that Bulgarian courts delivered on the murderer Jock Palfreeman is a mockery with the memory of Andrei. We are going to appeal again, demanding for the heaviest sentence – life jail without parole," Antoan Zahariev told bTV private channel on Sunday, his first interview since the tragic incident more than three years ago.
The life of 20-year-old Bulgarian law student Andrei Monov was cut short brutally in the early hours of December 28, 2007 after he was fatally stabbed by young Australian Jock Palfreeman in a street brawl in the center of the capital Sofia. Antoan Zahariev was wounded.
Palfreeman was convicted in December 2009 to twenty years in jail, a sentence that he and his parents appealed, slamming it as "hideous perversion of justice".
A three-member panel of the Sofia Court of Appeals last week upheld on all counts the verdict of Sofia City Court. The judges declared Australian citizen Jock Palfreeman guilty and sentenced him to 20 years in prison for the murder of Andrei Monov.
In addition to his jail sentence, Palfreeman must also cover the court costs of his appeal. He must also pay BGN 450,000 (USD 311,000) in compensation to Monov's family and BGN 50,000 to Zahariev.
The ruling is subject to appeal at the Supreme Cassation Court.
"As we were heading towards the disco club, some noises caught our attention and we saw the Australian, dressed in black and flourishing a knife, coming toward us, shouting in English: No fashism! No racism!," Antoan explained on Sunday, adding that the boys had never seen Palfreeman before.
Antoan happened to be closest to Jock, who is his words was taunting the boys and challenging them to fight with him.
"I was stepping back and luckily I tripped over a vase for flowers, one of those you can see in the streets, fell on my hands and felt someone hit me in the back. It is obviously at this moment that Jock Palfreeman stabbed me. I stood up and started walking slowly, trying to get away."
"I had no idea how Andrei was doing. I saw him lying on his stomach on Alexander Stambolijski boulevard, there was blood everywhere. It was only then that I realized I was stabbed too. I put my hand on my waist and it was all covered in blood."
"The first ambulance that arrived took Andrei. But as the doctors told us later on, the stab wound was so bad that Andrei had no chance of survival even he was attacked at the hospital. The hits were very powerful and the knife was stabbed into his body up to the hilt."
"I was very lucky that I tripped over and the knife stabbed into my body slightly bent."
Antoan denied there was a physical clash with two unidentified Roma people, as claimed by the defence. He said there was just an exchange of words after the boys were taunted by two unknown men passing by.
According to Antoan Jock Palfreeman was thirsty for blood and attacked them unprovoked.
"This man was just trying to kill us. He was ready to attack anyone, who was closest to him."
"The morning after I was told Andrei was dead. I felt very bad and depressed and did not want to go out for weeks. Now I am better and go to clubs again, but try to be more careful."
The Australian Jock Palfreeman, who is expected to challenge the ruling at the supreme court, argues that he intervened only to go to the aid of two Roma gypsies being beaten by the group of boys, part of which Andrei was.
The parents of Andrei will launch an appeal of their own, demanding that Jock gets the heaviest sentence in Bulgaria – life without parole.
Ever since the tragic incident Andrei's friends and family have been shying away from the media, barraged by what they have described as "the media performances" of the murderer and the one-sided coverage of the Australian media, who prefer to picture Jock as nothing but a victim of a judicial farce.
The evidence however has been challenged by both sides.
Jock's appeal was built upon the discrepancies between the initial statements of the witnesses and the trial evidence, a faux pas, which he attributes to their efforts to cover up the initial clash with the Roma.
The Australian claims he pulled out the knife only after he saw a group of men beating an unidentified Roma person for up to 40 seconds.
Jock Palfreeman also wants his original murder conviction overturned on the grounds that the legal process was deeply flawed. According to him the original court decision and the whole trial and case has been flawed and wrong, marred by procedural lapses, discrepancies in evidence and intentional oversights.
The defence has harshly criticized the police for failing to secure the crime scene, get CCTV footage and call in front of the judges all the important witnesses.
The Bulgarian appeals court however has ruled that the Australian's right to a fair trial has not been breached.
Following are the main points from the motives in the verdict of Sofia Court of Appeals, issued last week:
- Jock Palfreeman's claims that he was attacked and acted in self-defence are not backed by the other evidence collected in the trial.
- Jock Palfreeman was the one who went to the group of boys, not vice versa.
- Jock Palfreeman's claim that he was attacked simultaneously by the whole group of 15 boys, beaten and targeted with concrete slabs has been rejected because his injuries are insignificant and not as described by him.
- It was only after Jock Palfreeman committed the crime that he was pelted with slabs, not before that.
- The young boys were going to the next club to celebrate and have in no way provoked Jock Palfreeman, did not expect the attack and were surprised by how Jock acted afterwards, including the knife that Jock produced.
- Jock Palfreeman was ready to attack anyone who stood in his way and if the prosecution had collected the evidence property, it could have raised charges for assassination attempt against other boys from the group too.
- It makes no difference whether there was a verbal or physical conflict with two unidentified Roma people before the murder because even if there was such a conflict it was stopped and no doubt the actions of the defendant Jock Palfreeman came after it and only after the conflict ended.
- The arguments of the defence about the way the defendant Jock Palfreeman was raised, the leading role of his sense for social justice as part of his social orientation, equal chances for all, including people from different ethnic groups, clash to a large extent with his actions.
– Jock Plafreeman attacked the group of young boys with a knife of impressive proportions, causing injuries with hits that deliberately targeted vitals organs of the body of Andrei Monov and Antoan Zahariev and made attempts to inflict such injuries on other people as well.
- Jock Palfreeman's claim that he acted in self-defence can not be accepted because he made powerful and jerky movements and hits targeting vital organs in the bodies of those who were dangerously close to him, including in the side and in the back. Those were premeditated hits with the aim to cause death.
- It was only the fact that the other boys ran away and those who eventually arrested Jock Palfreeman intervened that prevented the death of other people as well as a tragic end for Antoan Zahariev, who was injured.
- Jock Palfreeman committed the crime deliberately – he was aware of the dangers that he poses to others and the consequences his actions could have. Andrei Monov died very quickly and his death was inevitable.
- Jock Palfreeman is guilty of murder by hooliganism, because the crime was committed without any personal motive, without provocation on the behalf of the casualties, in the center of the capital Sofia, during the night, in a foreign country.
- There are no grave procedural flaws over the court of the trial, which would justify the overturning of the sentence or its transfer back to Sofia City Court.
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