Charlie Hebdo: “Midnight Express” in Sofia

The French weekly was among the few foreign media that reported on the "Jock Palfreeman" case
Екип на Биволъ

Text Eric Simon, Charlie Ebdo, N ° 949, August 25, 2010

Cartoon by Tignus (killed in the terrorist attack against the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2014)

България е в Европа. Прилагаме политиката на Ортефьо (Брис Ортефьо е бившият френски министър на вътрешните работи б. ред.) Тинюс

Bulgaria is in Europe. We apply the policies of Hortefeux. (Brice Hortefeux is the former French Minister of the Interior – editor’s note) Tignus

Jock Palfreeman was sentenced to twenty years in prison for murder. The judges have not accepted as extenuating circumstance the fact that he killed his attacker in legitimate self-defense and to save the life of a young Roma. The case went unnoticed, although it happened in Europe.

The Sofia evening of December 27, 2007 was cold, but the city center around the metro station Serdika was lively. For the 16 hooligans, fans of the football club Levski, the young Roma was a welcome encounter. To kick an under-human with one’s boots is part of the tradition, and it makes you warmer.

Therefore, they did not immediately understand what this young blonde, who tried to resist them, screaming with an English accent “Back up, back up!” was doing. Since the shouting individual was armed with a large knife, the pack hesitated for a moment. Beaten and bloodied, the Roma disappeared. Our brave patriots, armed with iron debris from a nearby construction site, launched a new attack – how come some foreign hippie was going to mend things here. They throw! They strike! He is bloodied! He waved his hand once, twice and fell…

When the police arrived, they recorded personal data and testimonies and lifted the bodies – Jock Palfreeman, Australian national, 23-year-old, with a bloody face, had a strong brain concussion. Anton Zahariev, 19-years-old, had a knife wound in the ribs. Andrei Monov remained forever twenty and would never again participate in pogroms.

End of the first act

A manipulated process

The collected testimonies were more favorable for the story of the young Australian, who was immediately arrested; most of the gang members admitted, without any shame, the thrashing of the Roma. Furthermore, a surveillance camera has recorded the scene entirely.

Was the case clear? Not yet. The investigation, supervised by prosecutor Parvoleta Nikova, would continue until April 2008 and reveals the strange functioning of the Bulgarian justice system – all who testified in favor of the defendant disappeared. Some witnesses were never questioned. Others changed their accounts overnight. The police also retracted – no more aggression against Roma, but a new story, presenting the foreigner as an aggressor, attacking peaceful patriotic college students with shouts “antifascism!” References to fascism, in a country where it has long been an alibi for totalitarian ideology, aggravated Palfreeman’s situation… Zahariev, the wounded hooligan, was constituted as a party in the civil case as “victim of aggression”.

As for the camera, which filmed the scene, a very convenient electrical accident in the hands of the anonymous policeman, who came to pick it up, deleted the entire content. “It does not matter,” the prosecutor cut short.

After a year and a half of a trial in boiling media environment, in which most of the media presented Andrei Monov as a martyr, a victim of a killer from abroad, Jock Palfreeman was sentenced on December 2, 2009, to 20 years in prison.

End of the second act.

However, not only the nationalistic climate and the corruption of the judicial system, regularly condemned by Transparency International, worked to Palfreeman’s disadvantage – the murdered young fascist is the son of a well-known psychologist, Hristo Monov, who is very close to the Minister of Health; is recognized as an expert by the police and is an influential figure in political circles. That camera with the deleted content was incidentally located on the building of the Ministry of Health. There is just one step from here to the suggestion that a father, devastated by pain, has decided that the murderer of his son will not escape revenge.

Being cautious, the attacked Roma did not appear in Court, but the Roma community showed discreet interest in the case, as evidenced by publications in Internet forums.

Pending the appeal in the case, Jock Palfreeman was detained on February 19, 2010, in full isolation, under a law which states that any foreign national convicted to more than 15 months in prison should be kept in isolation until the end of the appeal procedure. He is the only prisoner in Bulgaria in such a situation.

The affair became known outside Bulgaria only in Australia, a country that has no room for diplomatic action thousands of kilometers from its borders. The European Union did not feel affected. Although Bulgaria is a member since the beginning of 2007, the EU did not even lift a finger. In other words, the curtain fell, while the action continues to evolve.

Bivol reminds of details about the protagonists:

Jock Palfreeman – on July 27, 2011, the Supreme Court of Cassations confirmed the sentence of 20 years in prison for Jock Palfreeman for the murder of college student Andrei Monov. See the video interview from Sofia’s central prison of investigative journalist Alexenia Dimitrova with Palfreeman. The interview is within the project Jailcrunch of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

Australian journalist Belinda Hawkins published in 2013 the documentary book-investigation in the case of Jock Palfreeman entitled “Every Parent’s Nightmare”.

Hristo Monov


In 2013, the father of the murdered young man became Member of the Parliament on the ballot of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). He was the one who called protesters against the BSP-endorsed cabinet Oresharski “internet lumpen”. Monov was exposed as an agent of the Sofia City Police Department of the Communist Secret Services (State Security, DS) under the alias “GOGOV”. He has reported on the intelligentsia and people from the Sofia University.

Parvoleta Nikova

Prosecutor Parvoleta Nikova

She is the prosecutor, whose boyfriend Rangel Stanchev, accused of extortion and swindling, was arrested in her home. During the arrest she gave him chocolates to cause a hyperglycemic crisis in order for him to avoid custody. The case was unraveled by Bivol. However, the Ethics Committee of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) came up with the conclusion that Prosecutor Parvoleta Nikova had not breached the Code of Ethics of the Magistrate in connection with her intimate relation with Burgas gangster Rangel Stanchev. In 2013, her work was rated “very good” by the SJC.



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