One Step Closer to Freedom

Friday, May 29th, 2020

Australian Jock Palfreeman appears one step closer to freedom after an unprecedented request to have his early release case re-opened was dismissed by Bulgaria’s highest court.

Following a months-long delay, the Supreme Court of Cassation on Thursday held the Bulgarian prosecutor-general’s application to have the Sydney man’s early release case re-opened was “inadmissable”.

In a statement the three-judge panel said the matter has now been terminated and cannot be appealed.

Bulgaria Helsinki Committee president Dr Krassimir Kanev, who wrote a letter in support of Palfreeman’s early release, said the court’s decision was a “major step” towards the 33-year-old’s freedom.

“Jock’s return back to Australia is a matter of time now,” Dr Kanev told AAP on Thursday.

“These past nine months have been a huge stress for Jock and his family.

“They must feel relieved now, as I do.”

Palfreeman served 11 years behind bars in Sofia after being found guilty of murder and attempted murder for stabbing two Bulgarian youths during a street melee in 2007.

The former Riverview student, who has always maintained he acted in self-defence, was released from custody in October.

But Palfreeman waited more than six months for Bulgaria’s highest court to respond to the Prosecutor-General’s unprecedented request – something that was supposed to be addressed by December.

He also claims Bulgarian authorities will not let him leave the border.

Palfreeman said the Supreme Court of Cassation’s decision meant former prosecutor-general Sotir Tsatsarov – who made the special application – should resign from his current role as head of Bulgaria’s anti-corruption commission.

“He was the man who gave the baseless request and abused the family of the deceased and the Bulgarian public,” he told AAP on Thursday.

“And for that he is now compromised.”

Palfreeman also said he would ask for financial compensation from the Bulgarian government for the time it prevented him returning home, as well as “psychological damages for stress”.

The Australian must wait for a separate hearing involving a “travel ban” before he can return home.

“I am not free to go home,” he told AAP.

Dr Kanev said the travel ban was the only thing preventing Jock from returning.

“I suppose the Migration Department will lift it soon administratively, even without waiting for the court to lift it,” he said.


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