Jock Palfreeman : November 2009 Update

    An update on Jock Palfreeman’s ongoing trial (for murder and attempted murder) in Sofia, Bulgaria. For further details, see : Jock Palfreeman : October 2009 Update. His last court date was on October 29. Below is an account of that hearing.

Court started at 9.30am and was finished by approximately 10am. One witness summoned by the court gave testimony: the civilian operator of a camera (footage from which was, unlike other cases, not deleted). She gave an account of the footage (already screened in court), and reiterated the fact that the footage contained evidence of a conflict between two groups: a small group filmed crossing a road and also a much larger group. Following this, both groups began running — the small group away from the larger group. (NB. The small group crossing the road are Roma; the larger group composed of football hooligans.) When asked why she believed the two groups were running, the witness stated that, on the basis of the footage, she was unable to venture an opinion.

In addition to the camera operator, six expert witnesses, composed of two groups of three, were called upon to give testimony. The first group of experts were expected to provide details of the autopsy conducted upon the body of Andrei Monov, the second group to provide details of the medical report upon Anton Zahariev (whom Jock is being charged with attempting to murder). These two groups are the last expected to be called upon to give testimony.

Note that all experts are state-appointed. This is unlike Australian law, where both the defence and the prosecution are able to call upon their own experts. Further, both teams of experts must be present in court before their reports can be officially submitted, and so that they are available for cross-examination. In other words, if one member of either group doesn’t appear, no report can be submitted to and be accepted by the court.

At the most recent hearing, experts again failed to appear, so the trial has again been delayed.

Bulgarian media

    Naturally, Bulgarian media have been following Jock’s case fairly closely. However, this reportage has contained a number of factual errors:

Jock’s father: the lawyer

Under Bulgarian law, one member of the accused’s family may be appointed as a defendant’s legal guardian. One result of this legal provision is that it entitles the family member to act on their relative’s behalf (to address the court, to question witnesses, and so on). Jock’s father has acted in this capacity since March 2008 — but he is not a lawyer.

Denial of bail

Some media reports have stated that the reason Jock’s initial bail application was denied was on the grounds that he was deemed to be ‘aggressive’. His initial application was lodged three days after his arrest. On that occasion, the magistrate cried during proceedings and repeatedly shouted at Jock that he was a ‘hooligan’.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, bail was denied.

A subsequent appeal — lodged a few days after the magistrate’s original refusal — was also dismissed, although it found, in contradiction to the original denial, that there was no evidence of aggression on Jock’s part, or that he was a threat to society. Instead, the appeal was dismissed on the grounds that: a) it is unlawful to grant bail in cases where, if the defendant is found guilty, the minimum sentence is above 10 years; b) Jock is a foreign citizen (and therefore a flight risk).

A third bail application, submitted on July 2, 2009, was refused on similar grounds: Jock is a foreign citizen and there are insufficient links between Jock and Bulgaria to mitigate against his status as a flight risk. This is despite the fact that a number of Bulgarian citizens have volunteered themselves to act as Jock’s guarantors.

Experts contradicting Jock’s account

There has been some suggestion that experts contradict Jock’s version of events, but it would be just as possible, appropriate even, to suggest that expert accounts do not conform with the account given by the prosecutor (which is, in essence, that Jock launched an unprovoked, violent attack upon a large group of strangers. Note that in this account, the Roma have been disappeared). Thus, for example, the expert called upon to give testimony regarding video footage on the clash has stated in court that “the video material can show and come to the conclusion that the people involved show aggression in their actions — throwing of objects from the floor, throwing of people, kicking and shoving”.

Experts requiring more time

The relevant experts concluded their reports on the case in April 2008, at the conclusion of the prosecution’s investigation period. Since that time, there have been no updates from any experts other than from the court-appointed psychiatrists. Their report concluded that, inter alia, ‘Jock’s motivation is social justice’ and ‘Jock is not aggressive’. The only experts who have failed to appear — and whose final reports have therefore yet to be accepted by the court — are those detailed above: their testimony is expected to simply confirm the contents of their reports.

Some eyewitness testimony…

    From the original court transcripts, translated from Bulgarian into English.

December 28, 2007
Anton Zahariev:

There was already a fight between my friends and other people whom I do not know and have not seen before. Some of these people I believe were gypsies, however, I am not certain. I do not know who started the fight. My friends and I were around 10 people. (Anton later changed his statement in court.)

January 1, 2008
‘Hotel worker’:

I saw a boy (Jock) running from Stamboliski St. towards the metro, a group of people was chasing him. I cannot give any description of the boy running. Just before the entrance of the metro the group caught up with the boy, knocked him down and began to kick him. They kicked him around 30 to 40 seconds in no apparent order. As far as I could tell there was much strength behind their kicks. Then one of the people from the group came from behind the boy (Jock) and threw an object at him, as far as I could tell it hit his head and the boy fell to the ground.

‘Unnamed witness’:

I saw a few boys chase one boy (Jock) in the direction towards the metro. They caught up to him near the entrance of the metro and knocked him to the ground then began to kick him. I can’t give description of the boy that was running or the people that were chasing him. At first three or four of them were kicking him but after a few others ran over and also began kicking him. There was no coordination behind their movements, who ever decided to kick him just went over and kicked him. During this whole thing the boy (Jock) was on the floor.

February 5, 2008
Victor Lubomirov (police officer):

I understood that a group of around 10 boys had a fight with one or two people who were gypsies. We did not find these (gypsy) boys at the scene. I also understood that the other boy (Jock) came to defend the gypsies. (Officers Peter Kacarov, Krasimira Stoianova and Slavei Tconkov tendered the same statement.)

February 19, 2008
Martin Stoletov:

The boy (Jock) said in broken Bulgarian, “Back off, back off.”

October 13, 2008
Asen Stoichev (police officer):

I talked to Anton Zahariev and he told me that there was a fight between his group and others. Jock came over to help the minority and then the group attacked Jock. Jock tried to defend himself and … that is when Andrei was killed.

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 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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One Response to Jock Palfreeman : November 2009 Update

  1. ash says:

    thanks for the ongoing coverage andy. email me and ill send you an overview of court this morning. not much to report though, postponed again as the expert witnesses didnt show.

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