Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

No decision over Shields pardon

Michael Shields
The 22-year-old was moved to a British prison in 2006

The High Court has reserved judgement in the case of jailed Liverpool fan Michael Shields.

He is serving 10 years for the attempted murder of a Bulgarian barman, but is campaigning to be pardoned.

His legal team point to "fresh evidence" that another man was responsible for the attack.

The family's solicitor, John Weate, said they were encouraged by the court's decision to reserve judgement in the case of the 22-year-old fan.

Lord Justice May and Mr Justice Maddison were being asked to decide whether there were powers "to grant a pardon to repatriated prisoners wrongly convicted in a foreign jurisdiction".

The power to pardon is used when a person is deemed to be "morally and technically innocent".

In court Mr Straw's legal team warned that if a pardon were granted the move would be seen as criticism of the foreign court that had found Shields' guilty.

I hope that we soon get a positive verdict to free the way for Michael to be reunited with his family
Arlene McCarthy MEP

They said it could "drive a very big hole" through the international convention of transferring of prisoners allowed to serve their sentences in their home countries.

Shields has always maintained his innocence, and Fair Trials Abroad described his conviction as a blatant miscarriage of justice.

Another fan - not an associate of Shields - signed a statement admitting he was the man responsible.

Shields was convicted of attempted murder after a paving slab was dropped on barman Martin Georgiev's head following Liverpool's Champions League final victory in Istanbul in May 2005.

He is currently serving the remainder of his sentence, which was cut to 10 years on appeal in Bulgaria, at HMP Haverigg in Cumbria.

His mother Marie said: "Three-and-a-half years for an 18-year-old to be locked up for a crime he did not commit, it's heartbreaking and it has destroyed him."

Arlene McCarthy, North West of England MEP, who supports Shields' campaign for freedom, said: "Michael has missed three Christmases and I hope that we soon get a positive verdict to free the way for Michael to be reunited with his family in time for Christmas."

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