Late one night in 2007, in the Bulgarian capital city Sofia, 21-year-old Australian man Jock Palfreeman was walking home after a night out with friends. He saw a group of about 15 men attacking two others. The two men were Roma, an ethnic minority who are often the targets of racist attacks by neo-Nazi gangs. Outraged, Palfreeman intervened to prevent the attack, but instead the crowd turned their violence on him, hurling concrete blocks. Palfreeman pulled a knife to protect himself and during the subsequent fight, one man was stabbed and later died.
Family, friends and justice supporters rallied on October 16 in support of Jock Palfreeman, a 23-year-old Australian jailed in Bulgaria, whose appeal started on October 21. Palfreeman was convicted of premeditated murder for an incident in 2007. But he says he was acting in self defence when he ran to the aid of two Roma men being attacked by 16 men. During the ensuing conflict, two of the attackers suffered stab wounds, and one died. Palfreeman was sentenced to 20 years’ jail and fined $375,000, despite eyewitness accounts supporting his account and key CCTV footage going missing.
In December 2009, a Bulgarian court convicted 23-year-old Australian Jock Palfreeman of the murder of 20-year-old Bulgarian man Andrey Monov, who died of a knife wound. Palfreeman was sentenced to 20 years in jail. This resulted from an incident in December 2007 in which Palfreeman, according to his own account, came to the aid of two men of the minority Roma community who were being attacked by a gang of 16 men. Palfreeman was denied bail and spent nearly two years in jail before finally being sentenced.