Liverpool fan freed on government pardon

Sept. 9, 2009 at 12:46 PM

LONDON, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- British Justice Secretary Jack Straw says his decision to grant a pardon to a soccer fan convicted of attempted murder was based on another man's confession.

Michael Shields, 22, was released from prison Wednesday after being pardoned for the 2005 beating of a bartender in Bulgaria during a stopover by Liverpool supporters returning from a match in Turkey.

Shields was met by his parents outside the juvenile prison in Warrington and whisked away after waving to a crowd of supporters.

Straw said the pardon was granted because he believes Shields was "morally and technically innocent."

"At first he couldn't believe it after all these years and knockbacks," Shield's solicitor, John Weate, told the Times of London. "Now he is absolutely ecstatic and so is his family."

The Daily Telegraph said the lawyer for the other fan who reportedly confessed has stated that his client may not have been involved in the beating at all but rather was in a separate fight.

Sky News said Straw ordered British police to cooperate with Bulgarian authorities in their continuing investigation into the incident.

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