March 15, 2012 has been declared a day of action in solidarity with imprisoned anti-fascist Jock Palfreeman. Among other things there will be a rally outside of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in London (186-188 Queen’s Gate) @ 11.00am. Green Left Weekly has published an Open Letter from Jock which I’ve re-published below.
On February 18 in Sofia, “Some 1000 participants joined the so-called Lukov March, a procession deemed to be neo-Nazi, whose organizers defend it as patriotic”. On the same date in Dresden and earlier on February 13 neo-Nazi gatherings were disrupted by large numbers of protesters. On February 13, an estimated 13,000 people formed a chain around the centre of the city while 2,000 others confronted perhaps 1,600 neo-Nazis and 5,000 police at the central railway station.
As of around August 2011 I have been convicted without right of appeal in the highest court of Bulgaria. I was left with a 20-year sentence in a maximum security prison.
However, what did change in the court’s decision was that unlike the first court’s verdict, the court of appeal ruled that there were Roma present and there was a “physical fight between the Roma and the group of boys”.
Seeing as the Roma were 2 and the “group of boys” were 15 the use of the word “fight” is being stretched. The neo-nazis from South Division Levski Ultras have denied that there was a “fight” with any Roma and even deny that Roma were there at all.
Yet the appeal court, although contradicting the neo-Nazis on this point, went on to claim that the statements from the neo-Nazis were truthful. Strangely the crux of the prosecutor’s arguments was that there was no fight between the neo-Nazis and Roma and there weren’t even Roma there, hence the accusation against me that I attacked them without cause.
This was also the excuse given by the investigator and prosecutor for not bringing the Roma to court as witnesses. Now, however, the court has ruled that Roma were there and that yes there was a physical fight between the Roma and neo-Nazis, but the court stops short at discrediting the neo-nazis as witnesses and made no attempt to find these “new” witnesses.
Until today the only evidence used to prosecute me were the statements from the neo-nazis themselves. There is no other [corroborating] evidence or witnesses to the indictment or court findings that I “for no reason attacked 15 men with the intent to kill them”.
I have not changed my explanation of events from the beginning, and they remain the same after four years of being kidnapped by the Bulgarian state. I witnessed the 15 neo-Nazis all attack two Roma due to the colour of their skin. I intervened to defend the two Roma. The 15 neo-Nazis then attacked me and I defended myself.
For these reasons and many more we are trying to revitalise the solidarity movement with my case and all the connotations that my case involves, i.e. racism, violent neo-Nazi gangs and their mates who defend them the corrupt police, corrupt courts and the corrupt prison system.
The neo-Nazis wouldn’t be able to attack people on the streets if it wasn’t for the protection afforded them by the police and courts. It’s telling when hundreds of the state’s agents are needed to stop me, a lone individual. However against their hundreds I have morality, I am right and they are in the wrong and this is why it takes so many of them.
I am putting out a call to action to all those opposed to racism both on the street and in its institutionalised form of fascism. This March 2012 organise yourselves to the Bulgarian embassies or consuls in your cities. Let the Bulgarian state know that the matter is [not] yet settled and that you don’t recognise the court’s decision to incarcerate me and protect the racists.
I am also trying to transfer to Australia to be closer to my family and to escape the persecution against me by the prison administration at the behest of those connected with my case. Yet the Head Prosecutor Boris Velchev and his lap dog prosecutor Krassimira Velcheva have already tried to coerce me into retracting my transfer request.
I refused to retract my request and as such the Prosecutor’s Office of Bulgaria is refusing to answer my requests, based on Bulgarian laws, to transfer to Australia.
March 2012 solidarity demands are:
• Jock’s case be re-opened due to missing evidence primarily the two Roma witnesses/victims.
• The neo-Nazis are punished for their past race hate crimes and prevented from committing more.
• Jock is allowed to transfer to Australia and all foreigners who wish to transfer to their countries.
Letters of demand can be sent to the following relevant addresses:
• Head prosecutor of Bulgaria, Boris Velchev, Ns 2 Vitosha Boulevard, Sofia 1061, Bulgaria
• Directorate of International Legal Assistance and European Integration, Krassimira Velcheva, 2 Vitosha Boulevard, Sofia 1061, Bulgaria
• Minister of Justice, Diana Kovacheva, Ns 1 Slavanska Street, Sofia 1040, Bulgaria
Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boiko Borrisov, Ns 2 Dondukov street, Sofia 1123, Bulgaria
• President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneviev, Ns 2 Slavanska Street, Sofia 1040, Bulgaria
• Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N2 29 “6th September” street, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
Solidarity to all my comrades both outside and inside.
HRLC assists Australian to take case to European Court of Human Rights
Human Rights Law Centre Bulletin, Vol.70 (February 2012)
An application has been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Jock Palfreeman, an Australian man who was convicted of murder in Bulgaria in 2009, who faced inconsistencies throughout the court process in Bulgaria. Mr Palfreeman appealed unsuccessfully against both his conviction and sentence to the highest court in Bulgaria. Mr Palfreeman’s application to the European Court is based on a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights which enshrines the right to a fair trial. In particular, Mr Palfreeman claims that the Bulgarian courts failed respect his right to a fair trial by:
failing to respect his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in violation of Article 6(2) of the Convention;
placing the prosecution at an unfair advantage in breach of the principle of ‘equality of arms’ enshrined in Article 6(1) of the Convention;
not providing him with adequate facilities for the preparation of his defence in breach of Article 6(3)(b) of the Convention; and
failing to provide reasoned judgments in violation of Article 6(1) of the Convention.
Mr Palfreeman is being provided with pro bono assistance by the HRLC, DLA Piper and Peter Morrissey, Julian McMahon, Ruth Shann and Phoebe Knowles of counsel.