Briton Graham Mitchell faces retrial in Portugal


Click to follow
The Independent Online

A man facing extradition to Portugal for a crime he thought he was acquitted of 17 years ago said today his life has been "turned upside-down".

Graham Mitchell, 49, is wanted to stand trial for the attempted murder of a German tourist in the Algarve in 1994.

Mr Mitchell and his friend Warren Tozer were originally arrested over an alleged assault on German Andre Jorling, who was left paralysed from the waist down after falling off a 12ft sea wall. They were cleared in 1995 in a high-profile trial in Portugal which was recorded by BBC's Panorama programme.

But Mr Mitchell, a photographer who lives in Canterbury, Kent, with his wife Laura and two children, was re-arrested on March 6 by British police acting on a European arrest warrant in relation to the case. He told the BBC that he was held overnight at Wandsworth prison.

The former Scots guardsman said: "We are terrified, I'm terrified, my wife's terrified. Our life's been turned upside-down and inside-out. Nothing's the same. Every waking moment is a constant worry.

"It's getting back to like when it was when I first came back from Portugal - it's hell on earth."

He said he believed there had been an "administrative blunder" by the Portuguese police. British police told him he was wanted for "first-degree murder", although other paperwork refers to attempted murder and Mr Jorling is still alive, Mr Mitchell said.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab, a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said: "This is a double jeopardy case 18 years after the crime and they can't even get the charge right. How can you be accused of murder when the victim is still alive?"

He said there was a "whole range of problems" with the European arrest warrant and safeguards were needed.

"The fundamental problem is that there is an assumption that all European justice systems are the same. There are many justice systems across Europe that are either frankly corrupt or incompetent, and therefore buying into that assumption is not only a sham but we are hanging out our citizens to dry on a flawed premise."

Mr Mitchell last appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on March 14 and is next due to appear at the same court on March 28.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Government is reviewing the UK's extradition arrangements to ensure they work efficiently and in the interests of justice.

"The European Arrest Warrant was considered as part of Sir Scott Baker's review and we will be responding to his recommendations shortly.

"We will continue to press EU countries to consider proportionality when issuing European Arrest Warrants."

Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials International, said: "Graham thought that he had left his ordeal in Portugal, in the past, but nearly 20 years later faces the threat of extradition.

"We hope that Portugal realises that it would be wrong to extradite Graham so many years after he was cleared, and that they withdraw the request.

"We fear that if they do not, there may be little chance of stopping the extradition under the UK's flawed extradition laws."