Anti-fascist campaigner and Australian citizen Jock Palfreeman was unexpectedly granted parole on September 19 after serving 11 years of a 20-year sentence on trumped-up charges. He was last denied parole on July 17.
Palfreeman was convicted in 2009 of the stabbing murder of Andrei Monov and the attempted murder of Anton Zahariev. He has been in prison since 2007.
Various appeals against his conviction and prison sentence had failed, and it was widely believed he would serve the rest of his sentence in Bulgaria.
Palfreeman made a name for himself as a prison reform campaigner, having helped establish the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Rights Association (BPRA) seven years ago. The rights group has achieved significant reforms to the way prisoners are treated.
News of Palfreeman’s parole took supporters and detractors by surprise. “I’m surprised in a good way,” Palfreeman's lawyer Kalin Angelov said.
The Bulgarian government is said to be outraged, but it has been reported that the decision to grant parole is final.
Palfreeman was taken from Sofia Prison to the Sofia Busmantsi Immigration Detention Centre on September 20, to await his Australian papers.