Australian Jock Palfreeman has moved a step closer to returning home after being granted parole by a panel of three judges at the Sofia Appellate Court in Bulgaria.
“I’m extremely pleased,” Palfreeman’s lawyer, Kalin Angelov said.
“Surprised in a very good way.”
Palfreeman’s father, Newcastle pathologist Simon Palfreeman, said the family was overjoyed but still waiting to get details of the parole conditions.
“We’re hoping to be reunited with him as soon as possible,” Dr Palfreeman said.
In 2009, Palfreeman was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years.
The Australian has always claimed he ran to the assistance of a Gypsy who was being attacked by a group of drunk Bulgarian youths in downtown Sofia.
The prosecution argued Palfreeman set upon a group of young people unprovoked.
Last year, he withdrew his application for parole after Mr Monov’s father mounted a protest outside the courthouse and threatened to injure him if he walked free.
Palfreeman helped to establish the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Association, the first union for convicted prisoners in the former Soviet satellite.
Earlier this year, Palfreeman went on hunger strike to draw attention to what Bulgarian human rights advocate Krassimir Kanev said was a witch hunt by the Deputy Justice Minister in response to the Australian’s work as an advocate for Bulgarian prison reform.
He broke the strike action after four weeks so that he could see his 86-year-old grandfather Tony Palfreeman, who travelled to Sofia in May to see him.
The Australian has garnered support from a range of high-profile figures in entertainment, business and legal circles, including film maker Rachel Ward, who has visited him twice in prison, and Geoffrey Robertson QC.
“That he is going to be released has gone some way to restoring my faith in the world,” Ward said.
“It’s like a weight has come off my shoulders.”