Australian Jock Palfreeman says newly-released footage of a 2007 brawl in which he fatally stabbed a Bulgarian man proves he was acting in self-defence.
The 32-year-old was found guilty of murder in 2009 and sentenced to 20 years in jail, before being granted parole two weeks ago.
He is now being held in an immigration centre near Sofia, while he awaits the outcome of an unusual bid to revoke his release, launched by Bulgaria’s prosecutor-general.
Palfreeman says the security footage is proof of his innocence.
“When I finally got to watch it on a big screen on a high-quality monitor my feeling was of vindication,” he told the ABC on Thursday.
Palfreeman has maintained he acted in self defence after he came to the aid of two gypsies being assaulted by Bulgarian Andrei Monov and his friends.
The footage appears to show the men hurling objects at Palfreeman, knocking him to the ground, and then surrounding him when he tries to run away.
“What I’m convicted for is that I was just waiting in the dark shadows, waiting for a group of people to walk past, a random group of people, and I jumped out and tried to kill everybody,” he said.
“The prosecution in the court said that there was no violence … and of course to top it all off there was no motivation for my random attack.”
The Australian is due to face an unprecedented appeal of his parole in Bulgaria’s highest court on Monday, after his release was met with outrage in the former Soviet nation.
Some local politicians have slammed the parole ruling and even called for violence against the judges that granted it.
In response, almost 300 judges across the country sensationally called on Bulgarian citizens to defend the rule of law against political interference.
Palfreeman’s father Simon Palfreeman said the situation is now about far more than his son’s freedom.
“This is not just about Jock. It is about respect for the law,” Mr Palfreeman said.
“Jock has been given parole by three senior judges in the Supreme Court of Appeals. Yet, the Bulgarian authorities have illegally detained Jock and made an unprecedented attack on the judiciary to try and reverse the decision. It is a clear breach of Jock’s human rights.”
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she was “deeply disappointed” Palfreeman was still being held in Bulgaria.
“I am concerned … that there may be a range of non-legal considerations … that are influencing this matter, and I want to be sure that the law is being applied consistently,” Ms Payne told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
“I am strongly of the view that he should be treated in accordance with Bulgarian law and that he be allowed to return to Australia immediately.”