[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 20:26 GMT
Call to block Bulgaria's EU entry
Michael Shields
Michael Shields has always denied carrying out the attack
An MP has called on the government to stop Bulgaria joining the European Union until a retrial is ordered for jailed football fan Michael Shields.

Michael Shields, 19, of Wavertree in Liverpool, was convicted in July of the attempted murder of barman Martin Georgiev who was hurt in a bar brawl.

Another man, Graham Sankey, of Anfield, has signed a confession but this was not accepted by the Bulgarian court.

Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman brought up his case in the Commons.

"I recognise that ministers cannot interfere in the Bulgarian judicial process but I ask them to exert their influence on the Bulgarian authorities and urge them to conduct an inquiry or order a retrial," she said.

"It is a matter of justice."

We will continue to do all that we can to assist the Shields family
Europe Minister Douglas Alexander
Shields has denied carrying out the attack in the Black Sea resort of Varna in May.

He had travelled there on holiday after watching Liverpool beat AC Milan at the Champions League Final in Istanbul and claims he was asleep in bed at the time when Mr Georgiev was attacked.

But the court rejected his claim, and found him guilty of hitting the barman on the head with a rock.

An appeal to reduce his sentence failed earlier this month, but the court reduced his 70,000 fine to 42,000.

A further appeal is pending at the Supreme Court in Sofia.

Mrs Ellman said with EU entry being discussed this month, it is "a very critical time for Bulgaria".

Judicial process

She said the EU already had concerns over the country's human rights issues and this case could be crucial.

Europe Minister Douglas Alexander said: "We will continue to do all that we can to assist the Shields family.

"We are unable to interfere with judicial process in other countries but we remain committed to do all that we can properly do to ensure Mr Shields' welfare. We take Mr Shields' case very seriously."




SEE ALSO:
Commons debates jailed fan's case
16 Nov 05 |  Merseyside
New evidence aids bid to free fan
25 Oct 05 |  Merseyside
Straw to meet jailed fan's family
08 Sep 05 |  Merseyside
Football fan's jail frustration
30 Aug 05 |  Merseyside
Jailed fan's family renew appeal
15 Aug 05 |  Merseyside
Jailed football fan refused bail
03 Aug 05 |  Merseyside


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific