Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry released Australian murder convict Jock Palfreeman from the Busmantsi detention centre in Sofia on the evening of October 15 but he remains banned from leaving the country.
Palfreeman was held at Busmantsi since being transferred from Sofia Central Prison on September 20 following the Court of Appeals in Sofia granting him parole after he had served 11 years of a 20-year sentence for the December 2007 murder of student Andrei Monov. Palfreeman has always insisted he is not guilty.
On the afternoon of October 15, Palfreeman’s Australian passport was taken away by police at Busmantsi.
Speaking to journalists after emerging from Busmantsi, Palfreeman said that he would make no attempt to leave the country illegally. He said that he did not know precisely where he would be staying.
He said that if he had a choice, he would live in Bulgaria and continue his work with the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Rights Association that he founded while in Sofia Central Prison.
Authorities had insisted that Palfreeman had been held in Busmantsi because he lacked a valid Australian passport. He said that the authorities had lied about him not having a passport.
Palfreeman, whose parole has been the subject of considerable political controversy in Bulgaria, said that he did not fear for his life “because I have great confidence in the Bulgarian people who have protected me so far.
“For 12 years, everyone who protected me are Bulgarians. I have great confidence in the people here,” Palfreeman.
He said that it was “a little ridiculous” for the police to have taken his passport because should he try to use it at Sofia Airport, the computer would show a ban on him leaving Bulgaria.
Palfreeman will have to a sign an official register at the Sofia directorate of the Interior Ministry until the ban on him leaving the country is lifted.
Bulgarian-language media quoted the head of the Migration Directorate, Nikolai Nikolov, as saying: “Jock Palfreeman’s passport is with us. The Foreigners Act says that a foreigner’s documents may be temporarily seized when there is an expulsion order.”
“The execution of the expulsion order has been suspended until the obstacles have been removed,” he said.
Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General has lodged an application in the Supreme Court of Cassation to review and suspend Palfreeman’s parole.
On October 7, the Supreme Court of Cassation said that it would pronounce on the Prosecutor-General’s application within two months.
Several lawyers, including counsel for Palfreeman, had told the media in Bulgaria that the continued detention of Palfreeman in Busmantsi was illegal.
(Photo of Palfreeman, posted on his Facebook page, with his Australian passport before it was taken away by police)