Bulgaria

Jock Palfreeman, a prisoner rights activist in Bulgaria, has launched an international appeal for the prisoner support group he helped establish from inside Sofia Prison.  

Palfreeman has been a prisoner for more than 10 years on trumped-up murder charges. He was instrumental in setting up the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association (BPRA), which has successfully changed the law.   

Jock Palfreeman is a 30-year-old Australian man wrongly jailed for the murder of a neo-Nazi in Bulgaria in 2007. Palfreeman came to the assistance of a Roma man being assaulted by a gang of fascist football hooligans. During the ensuing fight, one of the attackers was fatally stabbed.

The dead youth came from a family with powerful political connections. Despite serious weaknesses in the case against him, Palfreeman was sentenced to 20 years in jail.


Dinko Valev, the Bulgarian neo-Nazi vigilante keeping refugees out of Germany … and in Bulgaria.

There is a so-called “Refugee Hunter” called Dinko Valev who has become infamous within Bulgaria and the EU for assaulting and illegally detaining asylum seekers who he finds have entered Bulgaria from the Turkish border.


Neo-Nazis protest against Palfreeman's nomination. Banner says: "Death to BHC [Bulgarian Helsinki Committee]."


Syrian refugees on Greece-Macedonia border. Photo: Amnesty International.

“Are we animals? Why? Why?”

Those were the words of one Syrian refugee to BBC's Channel 4 recently after Macedonian police attacked desperate families seeking entry into the country along the border with Greece.

The refugee crisis has grown to immense proportions. Tens of thousands of people have flooded into the Balkans in recent weeks.

Macedonia

There has been a huge rise in asylum seekers in Bulgaria as a direct result of instability in North Africa and the Middle East.

They use Bulgaria as a land entry into the European Union. The Bulgarian tabloid press has coined the phrase “wave”, which has now entered political and popular language.

In 2009, the newly-elected government greatly changed the way the law was interpreted and enforced. Before 2010, there was not a single “illegal immigrant” convicted and jailed in the criminal prisons.

The Bulgarian Prisoners Rights Association (BPRA) has made progress in its attempts to bring due process into Bulgaria's parole laws.

Founded in 2012, the BPRA has been represented on a Ministry of Justice working group on prison reform since May. Their representative is Valio Ivanov, who was released from Sofia Central Prison in February after serving 22 years — 20 in solitary confinement.

Ivanov succeeded in getting the working group to recommend changes in parole laws, BPRA chairperson Jock Palfreeman told Green Left Weekly.

The Bulgarian Prisoners' Rehabilitation Association (BPRA) won a victory on May 22 when it was invited to send a representative to a Ministry of Justice working group on prison reform.

The BPRA was founded in 2012 by Jock Palfreeman, an Australian anti-racist activist serving a 20-year sentence in Sofia central prison after he was framed for murdering a neo-Nazi. It is the first inmate-run prisoners' rights group in Bulgaria's history.

More than six years ago, 21-year-old Australian backpacker Jock Palfreeman was walking home with friends after a night out in Sofia, Bulgaria, when he saw a group of 15 men attacking two others. The next morning he was in a police cell — accused of “unprovoked murder” and “hooliganism”. Held without bail, he was convicted two years later and sentenced to 20 years jail.

Jock Palfreeman is serving a 20-year sentence for murder in Sofia Central Prison, Bulgaria. His conviction followed a trumped-up trial in a dysfunctional state where the local gangsters known as mutri hold sway, and hatred of Roma is a national pastime for many.

Palfreeman was alleged to have killed Andrei Monov in Sofia in December 2007 while trying to defend two Roma men. Monov was the son of a Bulgarian MP who wants Jock to spend the rest of his life in jail.

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