Bulgaria to lift travel ban on Australian convicted of murder


  • World
  • Friday, 29 May 2020

FILE PHOTO: Australian Paul "Jock" Palfreeman (C) is escorted by Bulgarian policemen before the start of a hearing of his appeal case in the Court of Appeal in Sofia January 19, 2011. Palfreeman was sentenced to 20-year imprisonment at the end of 2008 for stabbing to death a 20-year-old Bulgarian in the capital Sofia on December 28, 2007. The Court of Appeal will announce the sentence in one month, local media reported. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria will move to lift a ban that prevents an Australian man convicted of murder in 2009 and released on parole from leaving the country, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.

The decision comes after Bulgaria's highest appeals court dismissed a request by the former chief prosecutor to review the parole granted to Jock Palfreeman in September.

Palfreeman's parole angered nationalist politicians who have decried his release from prison, while the government's decision to keep him in a detention centre after his release and prevent him from leaving the country strained relations with Australia.

Palfreeman served 11 years of a 20-year sentence for murder and attempted murder in the 2007 stabbing of two Bulgarians, one of whom died, during a street melee in Sofia, before being granted parole by a court panel.

He was serving in the British army at the time of the offence and has said he acted in self-defence and was trying to protect minority Roma being attacked by the two Bulgarians.

After being released, Palfreeman was transferred to a detention centre for foreigners staying illegally in the country. In October, the government released him from the centre after an unprecedented call to do so from the top court, but said he could not leave the country due to an old ban.

"The interior minister has ordered to the head of the migration directorate to start coordinating procedures for the lifting of the travel ban on Palfreeman," the ministry spokeswoman said.

She declined to say how long these procedures might take.

Earlier on Friday, 33-year-old Palfreeman said in Facebook post that he had not yet been allowed to leave the country.

"Please do not believe the false news, I have not been allowed to leave the country as the decision to not allow me to travel is not based on law, but the decision of the government," he wrote.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov and Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Alison Williams)

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