England fan Garry Mann loses last-ditch extradition battle

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The Independent Online

England fan Garry Mann's hopes of avoiding two years in a Portuguese jail were dashed today when human rights judges rejected a legal challenge to his extradition.





Nearly six years after being tried and convicted over a riot at the Euro 2004 tournament, the former Kent fireman had asked the European Court of Human Rights to block his removal to serve the jail term in Albufeira.



But Fair Trials International, a campaign group which has been supporting his case, said today the judges in Strasbourg had refused to intervene.



Chief executive Jago Russell said: "Garry Mann could be on a flight as soon as tomorrow, sent to serve two years in a Portuguese jail after what is widely recognised was a grossly unfair trial.



"It is a travesty of justice that the British courts, the government and now the European Court of Human Rights appear happy to sit back and let this happen."



The group urged the UK courts or Government to step in at the "final hour" to stop Mr Mann's extradition.











The Portuguese authorities originally agreed to deport Mr Mann instead of making him serve his sentence.

But 18 months ago they used the fast track European extradition warrant system to summon him back.



British police and courts had no choice but to agree to the request, even though Mr Mann's trial and conviction were condemned by a senior judge as "a serious injustice".



The European Court of Human Rights was asked to issue an injunction halting extradition pending a full hearing into whether the handling of Mr Mann's trial and conviction amounted to a breach of his human rights.



Mr Mann, 52, says he was drinking with friends in a bar in Albufeira when a riot involving football fans began in a nearby street.



He was arrested, tried and convicted within 48 hours.



He said he was only granted five minutes with a lawyer before trial, could not understand the proceedings and did not know what charge he faced until after he was convicted.



A British police officer at the trial described the proceedings as a "farce".



Three days after being sentenced to two years, he agreed to be deported on the understanding that his jail term would be waived if he left voluntarily.



Back in the UK, a police chief applied for a worldwide football banning order preventing Mr Mann travelling abroad for football matches.



Justice Stephen Day refused because, he said, the trial in Portugal had been "so unfair as to be incompatible with the respondent's right to a fair trial".



More than four years later, in October 2008, British police arrested Mr Mann, acting on a European arrest warrant issued by their Portuguese counterparts.



British courts reluctantly rejected appeals against extradition, with High Court judge Lord Justice Moses declaring at a hearing in January that he could not "leave this application without remarking upon the inability of this court to rectify what appears to be a serious injustice to Mr Mann".



At another hearing in March he called for "mediation or grown-up people getting their heads together" and warned: "I cannot believe anybody wants this man to go and do two years in Albufeira Jail. It is just an embarrassment for everybody, this whole case, and it ought to disappear."





Mr Mann will be at a 2pm press conference at Fair Trials International's central London offices.