The family of Andrei Monov, the student killed in a stabbing incident in central Sofia in 2007, is to lodge a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office against the early release from prison of Jock Palfreeman, the Australian convicted of the murder.
In a television interview on September 24, Andrei’s father, Hristo Monov, said that the release of Palfreeman was a violation of the law.
The Court of Appeals in Sofia last week overturned a ruling by a lower court refusing parole to Palfreeman, who has served 11 years of a 20-year sentence.
Palfreeman was transferred from Sofia Central Prison on September 20 to the Busmantsi temporary detention centre in the Bulgarian capital city. He was moved to Busmantsi because his Australian passport had expired and he had no valid identity documents.
Bulgarian National Television reported that the parents of Andrei Monov would lodge an application for Palfreeman to be barred from leaving the country until he had paid the family compensation of 600 000 leva (about 300 000 euro) in compliance with a court order.
Hristo Monov said some days ago that the family had received only 3500 euro, from the compensation awarded to Palfreeman by the European Court of Human Rights in 2016, and which a Bulgarian court had ordered handed over the Monov family.
“When he goes to Australia, he will not pay a penny of that (compensation),” Hristo Monov said. “It is a decision by a Bulgarian court, which again will not be respected.”
He said that he would request a retrial of Palfreeman, which would mean that the Australian would have to return behind bars pending the outcome.
The Court of Appeals decision to grant Palfreeman parole has been condemned across Bulgaria’s political spectrum.
The case has been seized on in particular by ultra-nationalist parties, and the latest episode in the Palfreeman saga comes just a month ahead of Bulgaria’s mayoral and municipal elections.
On September 24, far-right party Ataka drew a few hundred people to protest against the court decision to free Palfreeman, while another nationalist party, VMRO, said that it would lodge an application for the dismissal of the presiding judge. A further protest against the Palfreeman parole is planned for Sofia for the evening of September 26.
Bulgarian National Radio said that it was expected that the Palfreeman case would be discussed at a scheduled meeting on September 24 of the judicial college of the Supreme Judicial Council.
Amid the outrage at the decision to parole Palfreeman, his lawyer Kalin Angelov posted on social media footage from a security camera that he said exonerated the Australian.
Angelov rejected the notion that Palfreeman was a “cold-blooded killer”. He said that the footage showed Andre Monov and another person chasing and attacking a passerby, and it was at this point that Palfreeman intervened to defend the man being attacked.
“For me, it is beyond doubt that Jock Palfreeman acted under conditions of inevitable defence and that we were holding an innocent man in prison,” Angelov said.
“Inevitable defence”, as a concept in Bulgarian law, involves actions to protect someone under attack. It is not an unlimited right, as spelt out in a 1997 ruling by Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court.