A three-member bench of the Court of Appeal in Sofia has upheld an appeal against a Sofia City Court ruling that had refused parole to Jock Palfreeman, an Australian sentenced to 20 years in prison for the December 2007 murder of student Andrei Monov.
The ruling by the Court of Appeal comes after Palfreeman, 32, has served 11 years of his sentence.
Palfreeman, accused of stabbing Monov to death in central Sofia during an incident the facts of which remain disputed, pleaded not guilty at his trial but in December 2009 was found guilty by Sofia City Court and sentenced to 20 years. Appeals to higher-instance courts saw the verdict and sentence confirmed.
An application for Palfreeman to be transferred to a prison in Australia, under a bilateral prisoner transfer agreement, was rejected in 2013. Bulgarian prosecutors opposed the transfer on the grounds of Palfreeman breaking prison rules.
Palfreeman, who founded the Bulgarian Prisoners Rights Association, has complained repeatedly of abuses, of himself and other prisoners. In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Bulgarian state to pay 3500 euro, finding that his rights under European law to freedom of expression had been breached by him being punished for complaining.
Earlier in 2019, Palfreeman went on hunger strike for some time in protest at his treatment behind bars.
In July, Sofia City Court refused his application for parole. Overturning this ruling at its September session, the Court of Appeal in Sofia found there were valid grounds for Palfreeman’s parole application.