Jock Palfreeman on Foreign Correspondent

To be broadcast on ABC 1 on Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @ 8pm : Repeated on ABC 1 on Saturday, June 6, 2009 @ 1pm.

One Night in Sofia
Broadcast: 02/06/2009
Reporter: Belinda Hawkins

Every year thousands of young Australians pack their backpacks, book their EuRail passes and make for Europe, leaving their parents to worry and fret about their wellbeing and their ability to cope with foreign languages and customs.

God forbid anything should happen to them.

Two days after Christmas in 2007, Australian pathologist Simon Palfreeman got the call any parent would dread. His 21 year old – Jock – had been in a fight, another young man was dead and the Bulgarian criminal justice system had swallowed his son.

A year and a half on, with legal machinery groaning and Jock Palfreeman locked up on a murder charge in Sofia Central Prison, reporter Belinda Hawkins travels to Bulgaria with a father desperate to prove his son’s innocence but growing ever more doubtful about the ability of the Bulgarian system to deliver justice.

The dead man, 20 year old Andrei Monov, died from stab wounds on the way to hospital. Jock Palfreeman admits wielding the knife that killed him, but claims it was in self defence.

He says he tried to break up a gang attack on some gypsies [Romani] when the gang turned on him.

“I was constantly turning in a circle and every time one of them would come at me I would lunge at them with the knife in a swinging movement to scare them. All I remember is being hit on the head and falling down. The thing I remember is right, shit I am gone. This is it. I am finished.”

The prosecution disagrees with his version of events, disputes many of the defence statements, and is calling for a life sentence without parole.

Andrei Monov came from a prominent family and his death has become a cause celebre in Bulgaria. In the Bulgarian media, the Australian is portrayed as a heartless killer who was out for blood that night.

Hawkins was on hand inside Sofia prison for many candid moments between father and son and recorded an extended interview with Jock Palfreeman.

“I don’t know if I should have even gone there in the first place, now, but it’s too late for that now… but I mean these are the type of situations where if you don’t go and they kill these guys everyone then says well why did nobody go to help him?”

See : Jock Palfreeman : May 2009 Update (May 12, 2009) [with Bonus! and extensive links to disco on Jock’s case on my blog and elsewhere].

freejock.net – A website dedicated to Jock Palfreeman

By way of further background regarding “nationalist” — that is, fascist — activism in Sofia:

BULGARIA NATIONALISTS STAGE RALLY

3/3/2006- Several thousand Bulgarian nationalists have held a rally in Sofia demanding the resignation of the government. Parts of the city came to a standstill as supporters of the nationalist Ataka party marched through the streets chanting anti-government slogans. Ataka party leader Volen Siderov told the crowd that ethnic minorities such as Turks and Gypsies should not be allowed into the Bulgarian government…
© BBC News

At Andrei’s funeral: “About 250 mourners attended the two-hour funeral at the city’s Bojana cemetery. Monov was farewelled by relatives, schoolmates and fellow students from the New Bulgarian University where he had been studying. Dozens of members of Monov’s favourite soccer club FC Levski, one of the biggest in Bulgaria, also attended.”

Point being, FC Levski is home to the Levski Hools, a fascist football firm…

On the situation of Roma in Bulgaria, see : roma info centre. Roma comprise somewhere between 5 and 10% of the Bulgarian population of approximately 7.6 million people, constituting the country’s second largest minority and third largest ethnic group.

Recently, Organise has published a survey of emerging ultra-nationalist and fascist currents in Bulgaria, and reading it provides some further background to Jock’s case, as well as demonstrates, I think, that his account of previous harassment, and being witness to an apparent assault upon a Roma, is highly probable. See also this video, titled ‘Special treatment for bulgarian anarchist’, dated December 6, 2007, and apparently showing footage of a gang of Bulgarian fascists harassing an elderly Bulgarian anarchist:

In June 2007, boneheads attacked fans at the Tangra Mega rock concert, injuring several (among the headline acts on June 20, 2007 @ Universiada Hall, Sofia, Bulgaria was the English punk band The Exploited).

Bulgaria and “Bulgarisation”

The example of Bulgaria is illustrative of the continuing problems in the peninsula. Bulgaria is a country of nearly eight million people, with a history of toleration of minorities and with a substantial Roma and ethnic Turk population. For years, even under the Ottoman rule that was endured for nearly five centuries, ethnic Bulgarians and ethnic Turks could live [as neighbours]. The program of the Bulgarian Central Revolutionary Committee, the 1870s organisation for the liberation of the country, forbade Bulgarians from attacking ordinary Turkish citizens in the struggle for independence. This stability continued into the 1980s until Todor Zhivkov, the infamous ruler for the majority of the People’s Republic’s life, started a campaign for “Bulgarisation” of the Turks in Bulgaria, forcing them to change their names, resulting in almost 300,000 leaving the country. The mid-to-late 1980s climate of terrorism by ethnic Turks, police actions against whole villages in their drive to “Bulgarise” them, and then the sudden collapse of the monolithic state threw things wide into the open. Rampant privatisation and ineffectual government in the nineties left a legacy of division that simply did not exist before. Many Roma families, left without the jobs provided for them under communism, fell into poverty and crime. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) monopolised the Turkish vote and has been an element of every coalition government since its inception. Unemployment rose generally…

~ ‘Unfashionable Balkan nationalism? The rise of ultranationalist politics in Bulgaria’, Organise, No.70, Summer 2008

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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12 Responses to Jock Palfreeman on Foreign Correspondent

  1. Pingback: Jock Palfreeman on Foreign Correspondent at slackbastard | Bulgaria Today

  2. wig and gown says:

    I watched the Foreign Correspondent program about Jock Palfreeman with great interest.

    All of the problems highlighted with the prosecution case were frankly unremarkable. “Lost” items of evidence, prejudicial media campaigns by victims’ families and witnesses who change their stories are part and parcel of the trial process in every country including this one. This is why defence lawyers exist. If the enforcement of laws by the state and the conduct of criminal trials were done fairly there would be nothing for a defence lawyer to do.

    It certainly appears as though there has been some unfairness in the way the matter has been investigated and prosecuted. One hopes that Mr Palfreeman has a good advocate. Given his blue blood background it doesn’t sound like he will be reliant upon Bulgarian legal aid.

    As to his background, I think that this is really at the heart of the Foreign Correspondent story. My experience leads me to the view that the outrage surrounding this issue is typical of the reaction of wealthy, law abiding people when one of their own finds themselves on the wrong side of the law. The reaction of Mr Palfreeman’s friends and family would most likely be the same if this fellow were facing trial in the County Court of Victoria for a stabbing on Swanston St. It is somewhat irresponsible of Foreign Correspondent to buy into this uncritically. I wonder if there would be as much coverage of this case if the accused was an Aboriginal person, or an impoverished migrant. Of course representatives of those two communities don’t tend to spend their youth touring Europe’s drinking holes.

    As to the facts of the matter, I think Mr Palfreeman has some problems. If he were to run self defence based on the defence of another in Australia he would need to establish that he (or the person he was defending) was being assaulted such that there was a reasonable fear that they would be badly injured or killed and secondly that their conduct in response was reasonable in all of the circumstances. The main problem lies in the reasonableness of the response. Mr Palfreeman’s best case is that he stepped in to stop another man from being assaulted. In the course of doing this he introduced a weapon to a situation where previously there was none. He has effectively aggravated the situation by bringing in a knife. I think he would most likely be found guilty of some sort of homicide were he to be tried in Australia.

  3. @ndy says:

    If he were to run self defence based on the defence of another in Australia he would need to establish that he (or the person he was defending) was being assaulted such that there was a reasonable fear that they would be badly injured or killed and secondly that their conduct in response was reasonable in all of the circumstances. The main problem lies in the reasonableness of the response. Mr Palfreeman’s best case is that he stepped in to stop another man from being assaulted. In the course of doing this he introduced a weapon to a situation where previously there was none. He has effectively aggravated the situation by bringing in a knife. I think he would most likely be found guilty of some sort of homicide were he to be tried in Australia.

    The first claim would appear to rest on fairly solid ground: that is, a reasonable case may be made that there was, in fact, “a reasonable fear that they [Jock and/or the Roma] would be badly injured or killed”, and “secondly that their conduct in response was reasonable in all of the circumstances”. According to the defence, Jock did go to the aid of two Roma — one escaped following his intervention, the other was on the ground being beaten by a group of approximately 20 inebriated football fans (Levksi hools?) when the mob turned upon him. (Racist attacks upon Roma leading to death are not unknown in Bulgaria.) It was at this stage that Jock claims to have pulled a knife, and to have used it in an attempt to ward off his attackers, while also appealing for help. Aside from their fists and boots, the mob also threw large concrete blocks at Jock, including while he was on the ground, having fallen as a result of their attack.

    As for the question of Jock being found guilty of some sort of homicide, this is precisely one of the major issues in the case. That is, under Bulgarian law, Jock could be found guilty of a range of crimes, including the act of homicide in self-defence. Different crimes attract different penalties; homicide in self-defence mandates one of the lesser sentences; naturally, the prosecution is asking the maximum be imposed.

    Chapter two. OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON

    Section I. Homicide

    Art. 115.
    Who deliberately kills somebody shall be punished for homicide by imprisonment from ten to twenty years.

    Art. 116.
    (1) (Prev. text of art. 116 – SG 62/97) For homicide:
    1. (Suppl. SG 28/82; amend., SG 62/97) of an official, representative of the public, as well as a military man, including from allied or friendly country or army, or on occasion of fulfilment of his duty or function, or a person under international protection;
    2. by an official, as well as by a representative of the public, by a person from the system of the police or on occasion of fulfilment of his duty or function;
    3. of a father, mother, as well as of a natural son or daughter;
    4. (Suppl., SG 62/97) of a pregnant woman, minor child or more than one person;
    5. of a person in a helpless state;
    6. in a way or by means dangerous for the life of many, in a particularly torturing way for the victim or by a particular cruelty;
    7. from mercenary motives;
    8. for the purpose of facilitating or covering another crime;
    9. committed deliberately;
    10. (New, SG 92/02) committed by a person acting by an order or in fulfilment of a decision of an organised criminal group;
    11. (Prev. item 10 – SG 92/02) committed from hooligan motives and
    12. (Prev. item 11 – SG 92/02, amend. SG 103/04) representing a dangerous recidivism or committed by a person who has committed other deliberate homicide under the preceding or present article for which verdict has not been rendered, (amend., SG 28/82; suppl., SG 50/95; amend., SG 153/98) the punishment is imprisonment of fifteen to twenty years, life imprisonment or life imprisonment without an option.
    (2) (New, SG 62/97; amend., SG 153/98, amend. SG 103/04, Amend. SG 43/05, in

    [page 31]

    Force from 1st of September 2005) For a homicide of a judge, prosecutor, person of the system of the Ministry of Interior, state bailiff, private bailiff and deputy bailiff, as well as customs’ employee, employee of the tax administration, of employee of the National Department of Forests or employee of the Ministry of Environment and Waters, implementing control activity during or on occasion of fulfilment of his duty or function the punishment shall be imprisonment of twenty to thirty years, life imprisonment or life imprisonment without an option.

    Art. 117.
    (1) Preparation for homicide under art. 115 and 116 shall be punished by imprisonment of up to three years.
    (2) The same punishment shall be imposed on those who abets somebody else to a homicide.

    Art. 118.
    (Amend., SG 28/82) For homicide committed in a status of affect, which has been provoked by the victim by violence, serious offence or slander or by other illegal act, as a result of which have occurred or there was a possibility of occurrence of serious consequences for the culprit or his next of kin, the punishment is: in the cases of art. 115 – imprisonment of one to eight years, and in the cases of art. 116, item 1 – 6 – imprisonment of three to ten years.

    Art. 119.
    For homicide committed in exceeding the scope of the unavoidable defence the punishment shall be imprisonment of up to five years.

    Art. 120.
    For homicide committed by a mother to a child at the time of birth or immediately after it the punishment shall be imprisonment of up to three years.

    Art. 121.
    For homicide of a newly born child with a monstrous appearance the guilty parent shall be punished by imprisonment of up to one year or by corrective labour.

    Art. 122.
    (1) Who causes death to somebody else by negligence shall be punished by imprisonment of up to three years.
    (2) If the death is caused by a gun or by a strong poisonous substance or if death is caused to two or more persons the punishment shall be imprisonment of up to five years.

    Art. 123.
    (1) Who causes death to somebody else due to a lack of knowledge or negligent fulfilment of a profession or another legally stipulated activity, representing a source of high danger, shall be punished by imprisonment of up to five years.
    (2) Who, by negligence, causes somebody else death through activities belonging to a profession or activity according to the preceding para, which he is not entitled to practice, shall be punished by imprisonment of one to five years.
    (3) If, in the cases of the preceding paras the perpetrator has been intoxicated or if death has been caused to more than one person the punishment shall be imprisonment of three to eight years, and in especially serious cases – imprisonment of five to fifteen years.
    (4) If the perpetrator has done everything after the act, depending on him for the

    [page 32]

    rescue of the victim the punishment shall be: under para 1 and 2 – imprisonment of up to three years; under para 3 – imprisonment of up to five years, and in especially serious cases – imprisonment of three to ten years.

    Art. 124.
    (1) Who causes somebody else death by negligence as a result of a deliberately inflicted bodily harm shall be punished by imprisonment of three to twelve years in case of a serious bodily harm, from two to eight years in case of an average bodily harm and up to five years in case of a light bodily harm.
    (2) (New, SG 95/75; amend., SG 28/82; SG 89/86) If the act under the preceding para is committed in a state of affect, which has been caused by the victim by violence, heavy offence or slander or by other illegal act, as a result of which have occurred or would have occurred serious consequences for the culprit or his next of kin the punishment is: for serious bodily harm – imprisonment of up to five years; for average bodily harm – imprisonment of up to three years; for light bodily harm – imprisonment of up to two years.
    (3) (New, SG 89/86; Amend. SG 92/02, amend. SG 103/04) If the bodily harm, as a result of which the death has resulted, is a dangerous recidivism the punishment shall be: for serious bodily harm – imprisonment of five to fifteen years; and for average bodily harm – imprisonment of three to ten years.
    (4) (New, SG 89/86) If the act under para 1 or 3 has been committed by exceeding the scope of the unavoidable defence the punishment shall be: for serious bodily harm – imprisonment of up to five years; for average bodily harm – imprisonment of up to four years; and for light bodily harm – imprisonment of up to two years.

    Art. 125.
    Mother who negligently causes death to her unborn or newly born child shall not be punished.

    Art. 126.
    (1) (Amend., SG 62/97) Who, with the consent of a pregnant woman kills her foetus outside the health establishments appointed by the Ministry of Health, or in violation of the rules established by this ministry, shall be punished by imprisonment of up to five years.
    (2) (Amend., SG 62/97) If the culprit does not have higher medical degree or he has killed the foetuses of two or more women the punishment shall be imprisonment of up to eight years.
    (3) (Amend., SG 62/97) If the act under the preceding paras is repeatedly committed the punishment shall be imprisonment of two to eight years.
    (4) The pregnant woman shall not bear criminal responsibility under the preceding paras, including for abetting and accessing.
    (5) (Amend., SG 62/97) If the killing of the foetus has been done without the consent of the pregnant woman the punishment shall be imprisonment of three to eight years.
    (6) (Amend., SG 62/97) If, in the above case, the death of the pregnant woman has followed, the punishment shall be imprisonment of five to twelve years.

    Art. 127.
    (1) Who, in any way whatsoever, helps or prevails upon a suicide and suicide or attempted suicide takes place, shall be punished by imprisonment of up to three years.

    [page 33]

    (2) For the same crime regarding a minor person or a person of whom the culprit is aware that he is in no position to guide his acts or he does not understand the quality or the importance of the act the punishment shall be imprisonment of three to ten years.
    (3) Who, by a cruel treatment or systematic humiliation of the dignity of a person in material or other dependence on him leads him to a suicide or suicide attempt, having expected it, shall be punished by imprisonment of two to eight years.
    (4) If the act under the preceding para is committed by negligence the punishment shall be imprisonment of up to three years.

  4. wig and gown says:

    So is he attempting to plead to something under 118 or 119? I take it the prosecution are looking for a conviction under 116(5) or (6)?

    I’m still of the view that Palfreeman’s conduct wouldn’t be excused on the basis of self defence under Australian law but 119 seems to make allowance for a reduced sentence in cases of excessive self defence. That’s good news for him, assuming that the “unavoidable defence” referred to also encompasses acts done in defence of another.

  5. alatea says:

    How many of you who are giving legal what ifs have been placed in a situation where you have been attacked by drunken hooligans? Real life is different from a text book, and all too often those that have laid down the law are completely lacking in experience.

  6. wig and gown says:

    I’m not going to tell you whether or not I have been set upon by drunken hooligans because the answer is irrelevant. I suggest though that if you wanted to make your point with a rhetorical question you could have asked “how many of you have been attacked by drunken hooligans WHILST YOU WERE ARMED WITH A KNIFE?”

  7. FC_FASCIST-RACIST says:

    Firstly, does anyone even know the laws pertaining to carrying weapons in Bulgaria?

    If it is legal to carry a weapon, which I suspect it may be, then wig and gown doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    Secondly, you have to remember that it was according to the Bulgarian Criminal Code…

    (3) (Amend., SG 62/97) Regardless of the nature and the danger of the defence there shall be no excess of the requirements of justifiable defence if:

    1. (Declared anti-constitutional – SG 120/97) the assault is carried out by two or more persons;
    2. (Declared anti-constitutional – SG 120/97) the assailant is armed;
    3. (Declared anti-constitutional regarding the words “country house estate or economic
    object” – SG 120/97) the assault has been carried out through penetration by force or by burglary into a house, country house estate or economic object;
    4. (Declared anti-constitutional – SG 120/97) the assault is against a motor, airborne, water vessel or mobile rolling stock;
    5. (Declared anti-constitutional – SG 120/97) the assault was carried out at night;
    6. the assault cannot be repulsed in any other way.
    (4) (Prev. para 3 – SG 62/97) (Amend., SG 28/82) The perpetrator shall not be punished when he commits the act by exceeding the requirements of justifiable defence if this is due to scare or confusion.

    Palfreeman was attacked by more than one person, yes (remember that he had at first tried to talk to the mob while shielding the two Roma people with his body before he was attacked).

    Palfreeman’s assailants were armed with large rocks and pieces of concrete.

    Palfreeman and the two Roma he was helping were all attacked at night.

    Palfreeman physically had no other way of defending himself i.e. if he had not stabbed out upon the point of being overwhelmed by the mob he would probably have been killed himself. Remember that Palfreeman was on the ground at the time of the stabbing.

    Palfreeman was both scared (outnumbered) and confused (in the middle of the the angry mob).

    5/7 Bulgarian Laws say that Palfreeman should be acquitted. Fact.

  8. slav4o says:

    Jock is after Article 12 — if you’re following this case, the very most that is applicable is Article 119, which comes with a maximum of 5 years, something like ‘stronger than equal defence’.

    Also something I just worked out, Dr Hristo Monov was the shrink for the killers of a Roma boy in Samokov. It was concluded that racism wasn’t an issue in the killings. But the reality is very different, similar to the media coverage and police investigation for Jock. Actually one of those involved in the killing, a young neo-Nazi by the name of Stephan, was actually the one who attacked Jock after he came to the defence of a Roma boy that this same Stephan stabbed (in the Rila mountains).

    Also fc-fascist-racist, you’re obviously not Bulgarian, or you’re one of those Bulgarians who deny there are any problems in Bulgaria (at least publically) as a large percentage of Bulgarians DO carry weapons! Either in the pocket, tucked into the pants, or the all-time favourite, under the car seat.

    In fact, in the same area, about 1 min from Jock’s incident, outside the same club the Levski Ultras were going, one son of a then BSP politician killed 2 with a knife as they were speaking English! YES! KILLED FOR SPEAKING ENGLISH! With a knife, at night, in the centre of peaceful Sofia. With many people running around in Bulgaria, it’s no wonder Jock found a need to carry a knife.

  9. Lumpen says:

    Actually one of those involved in the killing, a young neo-Nazi by the name of Stephan, was actually the one who attacked Jock after he came to the defence of a Roma boy that this same Stephan stabbed (in the Rila mountains).

    Are you fucking serious?! That’s a pretty game-changing statement if it’s true. Can you provide last names and/or any evidence for this?

  10. Pete the Just says:

    First of all, humans are such creatures, that cannot stand one of their own being put behind bars in another country, nor could accept it as fair. This gets multiplied by 2 when it is a different ethnic group’s country, by 3 when it is over seas and by 10 when the official religion is different. We have all experienced it (remember the case with the bulgarian medics in libya?, or the case of that english hool and the bartender?). Second, the self defense relief in bulgarian law is as far from … the american, for example (where even a provocation could invoke a justifiable self defense (just joking, but you know what i mean)) as it could get. So, I’m expecting for him to do a “bit” of time here, but not all of it, before he gets … repatriated :)) I would like to note, that as a foreigner, he will pass his time behind bars peacefully, in a special wing and he won’t be harassed.

  11. Sando says:

    There is no mentioning of blank [?] weapons in the Bulgarian laws. So carrying a knife is de facto legal. Problem is the whole trial is really biased on what the media in Bulgaria presents is true. Bulgarian media mention the Roma guys only in 1-2 publications among the many covering the case. The rest claim it was Jock who attacked the peaceful group of young boys who were walking quietly on the street… They also connect the case with the Michael Shields case and somewhat insinuate stuff about “them arrogant Western bastards coming to Bulgaria to get drunk cheaply, to fuck our girls and to… kill our boys”. I can only hope the court is not working accordingly, but public opinion will put pressure and whatever the sentence (as it will not be death by hanging on the central square) Bulgarian “patriots” will call the judges ass-giving, sole-licking anal whores…

  12. BMPO_Komita says:

    He won’t be leaving the Bulgarian jail any time soon. He committed a crime and as such must pay the price. He is part of antifa who are just as bad as fascists. They are communists in disguise. Both groups make me sick but in south eastern Europe the last thing anyone should do is get involved in anything least of all fights. It does not end well for anyone. He may even be killed in jail over there. A foreigner taking the life of a local doesn’t sit well with them. He should focus on getting through his sentence alive and not get too creative with his prisoner rights antics. Won’t work. He is only making things worse for himself.

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