Hooligan suspect appeals against 'unfair' Portugal trial

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The Independent Online

Alleged hooligan ringleader Garry Mann today claimed that CCTV footage which could clear his name following his conviction for violence in Portugal has been destroyed.

The 46-year-old firefighter of Faversham, Kent, told a press conference in London that he was to appeal against a two-year jail sentence handed down last week for his alleged role in violent clashes in the Algarve resort of Albufeira.

Speaking for the first time since his return to Britain, Mann said: "I now know that the riot started at 1am on Tuesday, June 15.

"At this time I was at a bar called the Blues Bar, with a friend and my brother, nowhere near the alleged riot site."

He said that CCTV footage from the bar had not been available when he made his court appearance last week and claimed it had been destroyed following the outbreak of violence which involved 200 Britons.

Mann said: "I was attacked when I went outside this Blues Bar on the way backto the hotel.

"This was approximately 3.45 to 4.00am.

"I was on my way back to the hotel when I was attacked by plain-clothes police officers and beaten up by the police at the time and arrested.

"I was then held at the police headquarters with a number of others, about another 13.

"We were subjected to 15 hours of sleep deprivation and beatings if we tried to shut our eyes.

"In court I did not know what I was really charged with until 30 minutes towards the end of the trial."

Mann said the English translator in court was replaced at lunchtime with another who found it just as difficult to translate for 11 people.

"I feel thoroughly victimised by a wholly unfair trial.

"I hope this matter is resolved swiftly as me and my family are devastated by these events and all the media coverage."

Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, who was hosting the press conference,claimed several aspects of the European Convention of Human Rights were breached during the trial.

He said Mann was not promptly told in a language he understood, the details and the cause of what he was being accused of.

In addition, he said Mann was not given sufficient time to prepare a defence.

Mr Jakobi claimed that a cafe owner in Albufeira could provide a statement toconfirm Mann's story.

He also said that efforts were now being made by a Portuguese lawyer to secure an appeal hearing for the firefighter, after initial attempts failed following last week's court hearing.

Mr Jakobi said that lawyers had been unable to lodge an appeal because the defendant left the country almost immediately.

"We believe that he has got valid grounds for an appeal to be lodged, though we expect this to be done at a higher court," said Mr Jakobi.

"If that fails we will take this case to the European Court of Human Rights as all Garry's domestic options in Portugal will have been exhausted.

"I cannot see an appeal to the European Court failing."

Mr Jakobi said that there were clear contradictions in the actual sentence passed on Mann following the seven-hour court hearing last week.

"There is a clear contradiction and we will be instructing somebody well versed in Portuguese law to determine the exact sentence," said Mr Jakobi.

"It was not right for David Blunkett (Home Secretary) to say that he is not in prison because of an administrative glitch."

Mr Jakobi also denied suggestions that his organisation was taking sides in the matter without the benefit of any evidence to suggest that the conviction was incorrect.

He said: "The whole thing is unfair because it wasn't conducted properly in court.

"He is a judge who runs grossly unfair trials and Mr Blunkett doesn't know what he is talking about."