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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 July, 2005, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Man 'admits Bulgarian bar attack'
Michael Shields
Michael Shields has denied carrying out the attack
The family of a Liverpool man accused of attempted murder in Bulgaria hope he will soon be freed after another man admitted carrying out the attack.

Michael Shields, 18, of Wavertree, faces 20 years in jail if convicted of attacking a barman with a brick.

Mr Shields, who visited Bulgaria after watching Liverpool FC win the Champions League, went on trial on Thursday.

But a solicitor for electrician Graham Sankey, 20, of Anfield, has said he has admitted responsibility for the attack.

"His conscience has told him that he must take these steps to end the agony that Michael and his family have been going through for these past few horrendous weeks," said Wirral-based lawyer David Kirwan in a statement.

It is a great relief for us - I'd love to go to that prison and say 'Get him out, that kid's innocent'
Joey Graney, Michael Shield's uncle

"Reading about Michael appearing in a Bulgarian court left him with no alternative but to come forward and admit his part in the events of that night.

"My client is prepared to stand trial only in Britain and to accept the consequences".

Mr Kirwan added that Mr Sankey's parents had received threats in recent days but were standing by their son.

A Bulgarian court in Varna was told on Thursday that barman Martin Georgiev, 25, had suffered a fractured skull and may have brain damage after being hit on the head with a brick by a Liverpool fan.

Mr Shields was one of many Liverpool supporters holidaying at the Golden Sands resort after watching their team beat AC Milan in the Champions League Final in Istanbul in May.

Martin Georgiev
Martin Georgiev's skull was fractured in the attack

He has always denied the charge, saying he was asleep in bed when the alleged incident took place in the early hours of 30 May.

Another fan, Anthony Wilson, 19, from Edge Hill, Liverpool, denies charges of hooliganism and possessing drugs.

Mr Shields' uncle, Joey Graney, who has flown out to Bulgaria to be with him, told the BBC he was "very happy" about the development.

"It is a great relief for us - I'd love to go to that prison and say 'Get him out, that kid's innocent'," he said.

"We've just got to wait. Hopefully the British Consulate will get Michael out as soon as possible and home, where he belongs."

In Liverpool, there has been a campaign for Mr Shield's freedom with banners on the street where he lives proclaiming his innocence.

'Miscarriage of justice'

Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman, said the trial should now be halted.

"The trial is due to be resumed on Monday. I am now calling for it to be halted in the wake of what has now happened," she said.

"The truth must come out and all possible witnesses should be called to give evidence. This is a very significant development and it is time for the full story to be told.

"It would be a miscarriage of justice and a travesty of justice as well for the trial to proceed without consideration of this new development."

Country profile: Bulgaria
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