I'm victim of a witch hunt, says England fan Garry Mann extradited over Euro 2004 riot

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The Independent Online

An England football fan is to be extradited to Portugal to serve a two-year prison sentence after losing his court battle to stay in Britain.

Garry Mann, 52, from Faversham, Kent, was found guilty by a Portuguese court of taking part in in a riot in Albufeira during Euro 2004. Yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected his emergency appeal against extradition even though judges in the UK had found serious flaws in the Portuguese criminal trial process.

The former fireman has always denied the charge and Home Office officials said at the time that he would not serve his sentence in the UK because there was no legislative framework to support it.

In March, Lord Justice Moses delayed his extradition pending an appeal to the ECHR. He said delays to the case gave him "serious concern" and "lends force to the belief that a serious injustice" had been committed against Mr Mann.

But the ECHR yesterday wrote to Mr Mann declining to exercise its discretion against extradition before the Strasbourg judges consider the fairness of his trial at a later hearing.

Mr Mann told a press conference yesterday that he felt let down by the judicial process. "I am proud to be English but sad and embarrassed that this Government and its laws have not stood up for me as an English citizen," he said. "This has been a witch hunt from beginning to end. The Portuguese and British crown prosecution services should not be embarrassed but ashamed of their actions."

Jago Russell, the chief executive of Fair Trials International (FTI), 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."

Mr Mann still has several applications pending at the ECHR, challenging his treatment in both British and Portuguese courts. But Mr Russell said that by the time the court gets around to considering the substance of these applications Mr Mann will have already been extradited and served his two-year sentence in a Portuguese jail.

Last night, lawyers representing the father-of-six were making a last-ditch High Court bid to stave off the action. They said their application would be based on evidence from the Foreign Office which has not been previously heard in court.

Mr Mann, a Birmingham City supporter, admits attending the Euro 2004 football tournament but claims that while he was spending the night with friends in a bar in Albufeira, a riot took place in a nearby street. Local police claimed he had taken part in the violence and in just 48 hours he had been arrested, tried and convicted.

A British police officer who was present at his trial in Portugal described the proceedings as a "farce". Mr Mann had only five minutes with his lawyer before the trial and did not know what he had been charged with until after he was convicted.

FTI claims he was unable to understand the proceedings due to the poor quality of interpretation. It says that the interpreter was a local hairdresser and a friend of the judge's wife.

Mr Mann later consented to his deportation to the UK after reportedly being told by the Portuguese authorities that the sentence would not be carried out if he agreed to voluntary deportation.

When he was back in the UK, a police chief applied for a worldwide football banning order preventing him from travelling abroad to attend 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".

In October 2008, British police arrested him, acting on a European Arrest Warrant issued by their Portuguese counterparts. Portugal is seeking his extradition because Mr Mann did not serve his sentence in the UK after being deported.