Men who lost extradition case fly to Greece

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The Independent Online

The first of five Britons who lost a legal bid to avoid extradition on charges of stabbing a former footballer were on a flight to Greece today, their lawyer confirmed.

The five, all in their early 20s, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg after the High Court refused them permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in England and Wales, last week.

They 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.

Today, Curtis Taylor, 20, and Sean Branton, 20, both from Horley, Surrey, reported to an undisclosed police station for their flight to Greece, their lawyer Karen Todner, of London-based Kaim Todner Solicitors, said.

Daniel Bell, 21, also from Horley, will do the same tomorrow while 20-year-old Benjamin Herdman, from Worth, West Sussex, and George Hollands, 22, from Reigate, Surrey, will go on Thursday.

They were asked 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, but their lawyers argued in the High Court that they would face "inhuman and degrading" prison conditions if sent back to Greece.

The High Court judges said the claim fell short of the "high threshold" necessary to block extradition - even though accounts of Greek prison conditions were "disturbing and deplorable".

There were no strong grounds for believing that the five faced a real risk of being subjected to "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" if sent back for trial.

When the appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected, the last legal option was the European Court of Human Rights, guardian of the Human Rights Convention, to which Britain is a signatory.