Fan freed after four years

A BRITISH football fan jailed for 15 years in Bulgaria for the attempted murder of a barman was pardoned and walked free from jail yesterday after serving four years in Britain.

A BRITISH football fan jailed for 15 years in Bulgaria for the attempted murder of a barman was pardoned and walked free from jail yesterday after serving four years in Britain.

Michael Shields, 22, was convicted in Bulgaria of attacking Martin Georgiev, who had a paving slab dropped on his head in the Bulgarian city of Varna after Liverpool's Champions League final victory in Istanbul in May 2005.

His sentence was reduced to 10 years on appeal and he was transferred to a British prison to complete his sentence, but Jack Straw, Britain's justice secretary, ruled yesterday that he was "morally and technically innocent".

Straw said he had made his decision after new evidence of a confession by another man had emerged in a meeting with Shields's parents two weeks ago.

British police have now made fresh investigations and passed their findings to the Bulgarian authorities, Straw said, without giving further details. - Sapa-AFP

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