Charlie Hebdo’s Coverage of Jock Palfreeman Case

Charlie Hebdo's coverage of Palfreeman caseEveryone involved in Charlie Hebdo is very much in our thoughts. This is how the French journal covered the Palfreeman case back in 2010 not long before the appeal began.

A translation of the article into English follows, thanks to Pauline Vallee.

Jock Palfreeman has been convicted of 20 years in jail for murder. That he killed his aggressor in self-defence and to save the life of a young Roma was not considered by the judges as as mitigating circumstances. This story has gone unnoticed. Yet, it happened here in Europe. It is cold in Sofia on the night of December 27, 2007, but it is still busy near the subway station Serdika in the centre of town.  For the 16 inebriated Levski football team fans hooligans, the young Roma has come at the right time. The beating up of a sub-human warms one up as well as upholds the traditions! This is why they don’t grasp immediately what this blond hair guy shouting in thick accent; “Nazad! Nazad!” ( back-up!) is trying to do. They do back-up when they spot the knife this oddball is carrying. In the meantime, the bloodied Roma has disappeared. As soon as they have grabbed some cements blocks lying about, our brave patriots are back in force, this alien hippie won’t rule here! They circle him, throw at him, hit him. He bleeds, throws his arms out once, twice, collapses.

When the police arrive, they take down identities and testimonies, and take in bodies:Jock Palfreeman, Australian, 23 years old, blood on his face, strongly shaken, Anton Zahariev, 19 years, wounded on the side a the knife, Andrei Monov, forever 20, will never take part in a pogrom again….

End of act 1.

Fixed trial

The witness accounts are rather favorable to the young Australian’s version of events, immediately placed in detention : most of the gang even admit shamelessly to the beating up of the Roma. Moreover, a surveillance camera has captured the scene in its entirety.

Wrapped up case ? Not yet. The investigation, supervised by the procurator Parvoleta Nikova, which will last until April 2008, will reveal the curious procedures of the Bulgarian justice system : all testimonies supporting the accused are eliminated. Some witnesses will never be interrogated. Others modify their version the next day. Even the police vacillate, no more aggression on Roma, but a new truth is put forward of a foreigner attacking quiet patriotric students while shouting : ” Anti-fascism! ” The reference to antifascism, in a country where it has long been the alibi for totalitarian ideology, is only going to sink Palfreeman… Zahariev, the injured hooligan, is now claiming he was ” assaulted”.
A very convenient electrical incident at the hands of an anonymous policeman has erased the full content of the camera that has captured the scene. ” No importance whatsoever” claimes the prosecutor.
After a trial that lasted a year in an half, in a heated climate fuelled by the local media sanctifying Andrei Monov, victim of a “not-from-here” murderer, Jock Palfreeman has been convicted on December 2009 of 20 years in jail.
End of act 2.
Father’s vengeance?
It was not only the nationalist sentiment and the corruption in the justice system, regularly condemned by the NGO Transparency International, that ill-serviced Palfreeman : the young fascist killed was the son of famous psychologist Hristo Monov, at the time very close to the minister of Health, known as an expert by the police services and still very influential in political circles. Actually, the camera of the erased content was stored in a building of the Ministery of Health. From there to think a father overcome by grief has decided that his sons murderer would not escape punishment…
Cautious, the assaulted Roma have not manifested themselves, but the community was discreetly interested in the case as indicated by multiple comments on social media.
Waiting for his appeal, Jock Palfreeman was placed in total isolation on February 19, 2010, thanks to a law stating that all foreign prisoners convicted to a longer than 15 years sentence must remain in isolation until all recourses have ended. He is the only prisoner in Bulgaria in this situation.
The case was only heard outside the country in Australia, a country that does not carry much weight in diplomatic terms, being thousands of kilometers away. The European Union did not feel concerned – although Bulgaria is a member since 2007 – and has not move a finger. Basically, curtains down, as act 3 is still unfolding.
The cartoon says:
Bulgaria is Europe, we apply the Hortefeux policies.
(This in reference to Brice Hortefeux, a close friend to Sarkovy in France. Hortefeux was well known to have promoted a number of new legislation regarding immigration, in particular demanding the expulsions of Roma.)



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