Bulgaria is lifting travel ban for Australians convicted of murder

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria will lift a ban that prevents an Australian man convicted of murder and released on parole in 2009 from leaving the country, the Home Office said on Friday.

The decision was made after the Bulgarian Supreme Court of Appeals dismissed an application by the former attorney general to review the probation granted to Jock Palfreeman in September.

Palfreeman’s parole annoyed nationalist politicians who had condemned his release from prison while the government’s decision to detain him after his release and prevent him from leaving the country put a strain on relations with Australia.

Palfreeman was serving 11 years in a 20-year prison sentence for murder and attempted murder when he stabbed two Bulgarians in 2007, one of whom died during a street melee in Sofia before being released on parole by a court panel.

He served in the British army at the time of the offense and said he had defended himself and tried to protect the Roma minorities attacked by the two Bulgarians.

After his release, Palfreeman was taken to a detention center for foreigners illegally staying in the country. In October, the government released him from the center after an unprecedented appeal from the Supreme Court, but said he could not leave the country due to an old ban.

“The Home Secretary ordered the head of the migration directorate to coordinate the coordination procedures for lifting the travel ban on Palfreeman,” said the ministry spokeswoman.

She declined to say how long these procedures could take.

The Friday, the 33-year-old Palfreeman said in a Facebook post that he hadn’t been allowed to leave the country yet.

“Please do not believe the wrong news, I was not allowed to leave the country because the decision not to allow me to travel is not based on the law but on the government’s decision,” he wrote.

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

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