Australian jailed for murder in Bulgaria free to go home

Sofia (AFP) –


An Australian man who was jailed in Bulgaria for a 2007 murder is free to go home after serving 11 years of his sentence, the supreme court ruled Thursday.

Jock Palfreeman, now 33, was sentenced in December 2009 to 20 years in jail for stabbing to death a 20-year-old student and wounding another man in a street brawl in Sofia.

Palfreeman had been freed on parole for good behaviour last September but the decision sparked anger in some quarters and prosecutors asked for a review, effectively barring him from leaving Bulgaria.

In a ruling published on Thursday, the Supreme Court of Cassation turned down the request to review the case.

"The request for a reopening of the case is procedurally inadmissible and should be dismissed," a three-judge panel said, adding that the ruling was final.

During his original trial, Palfreeman claimed that he had intervened to defend a Roma man who was being attacked by two Bulgarians.

New CCTV footage, which was not available at the time of the trial, has lent some support to Palfreeman's claims that he acted in self-defence.

His lawyer, Kalin Angelov, told Bulgarian media after the ruling on Thursday that he planned to seek a retrial with a view to proving his client's innocence.

After he was granted parole, Palfreeman spent one month in an immigration detention centre as he did not have a valid passport.

He was freed in October and now lives in Sofia, working for a prisoners' rights association that he set up while in jail.