http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009 ... tion=world
The father of an Australian man jailed for 20 years in Bulgaria has lashed out at the country's legal officials, saying the verdict was a violation of his son's human rights and a travesty of justice.
Jock Palfreeman was sentenced overnight after being convicted of murdering a Bulgarian student and injuring another two years ago.
The 23-year-old Sydneysider had pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder.
He always maintained he drew a knife in self defence after a large group of soccer fans attacked him as he went to the rescue of a gypsy, who he says the mob was violently beating.
Prosecutors had called for a life sentence for Palfreeman, who had admitted to having drunk alcohol before the fight.
The Sofia City Court ruled out self-defence, saying victim Andrei Monov had been stabbed in the back.
Investigators also failed to track down the gypsy as a witness.
Jock Palfreeman's father, Simon Palfreeman, told reporters outside the court in Sofia that he does not understand how the prosecutor's case could be proved given that vital evidence was ignored.
"This was detailed in the court on numerous occasions," Simon Palfreeman said. "There was key evidence that was blocked from being presented to the court and taken into account.
"This related directly to some of the key witnesses actually changing their stories from their signed police statements."
Palfreeman, who was also ordered to pay 400,000 leva ($332,000) in compensation to the victim's family, has 15 days to lodge an appeal against his conviction.
It is a case that has generated heated debate in the Bulgarian media. The dead man is the son of a high-ranking and prominent psychologist in the Bulgarian government.
The country uses a version of the continental justice system where the judge's role is more inquisitorial than in the common law system used in Australia.
There is no jury, but there is a panel of two legally trained judges and three non-legally trained judges who have equal standing.
The family of the dead man and the injured man were also running a civil claim for damages during the criminal proceedings.
Palfreeman's grandfather, Tony Palfreeman, says the court processes left the family fearing the worst.
"We know about the process and we know the attitude of the parents of the boy who died, whose feelings and emotions we completely understand," Tony Palfreeman said.
"But we don't accept that this young man should also suffer for the rest of his life for what we know for certain was an accident."
He says the family is also exploring the possibility of applying to have Jock Palfreeman serve his sentence in Australia.
That application can only be made after an appeal, Tony Palfreeman said.
The trial had dragged on for 18 months amid delays that included one of the judges failing to turn up twice.