Greece attack extradition case will go to European court

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The Independent Online

Five men accused of attacking a footballer while he was on holiday in Crete are to take their fight against extradition to Greece to the European Court of Human Rights.

Today the High Court refused the five permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in England and Wales.

Later their solicitor, Karen Todner, of London-based Kaim Todner Solicitors, said: "There will be an appeal to the European Court."

The five, all in their early 20s, deny stabbing ex-Oxford United player Robert Hughes, 28, from Croydon, with a broken bottle and stamping on his head in the June 2008 attack in the resort of Malia.

Mr Hughes was left in a coma and had to undergo three life-saving brain operations.

Curtis Taylor, 20, Daniel Bell, 21, and Sean Branton, 20, all from Horley, Surrey, Benjamin Herdman, 20, from Worth, West Sussex, and George Hollands, 22, from Reigate, Surrey, are all accused of serious assault.

They were invited to return to Greece in June last year but refused, and were detained under European arrest warrants in December.

City of Westminster Magistrates' Court ordered their extradition to face trial.

In a bid to block removal, their lawyers argued at London's High Court that they would face detention in "inhuman and degrading" prison conditions if sent back to Greece.

Last month Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice Blair rejected the claim, saying the evidence "falls a long way short of the high threshold necessary to establish a... bar to extradition".

The judges said: "Disturbing and deplorable though the accounts of the prison conditions we have seen are, they do not show strong grounds for believing that these appellants, if returned to Greece, face a real risk of being subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Lawyers for the five then applied to the judges for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

But Sir Anthony May refused to certify that the case raised a point of law of general public importance, effectively blocking any further appeal to a domestic court.

The European human rights court is their last hope.