Friday, May 20, 2011

Garry Mann, jailed after 'unfair' trial and extradition, now back in the UK

Garry Mann, who was extradited from Britain in 2010 to serve a two-year sentence in Portugal for alleged involvement in a riot in Albufeira during the 2004 UEFA Football Championship, was transferred last night to a prison in the UK.

The former firefighter and father of six from Kent (pictured right), was tried and convicted in June 2004 in an Albufeira court in the space of 48 hours. A British police officer present at the trial described it as a “farce”.

The organisation Fair Trials International said in a statement today: “Garry had no time to prepare a defence and standards of interpretation were grossly inadequate. The UK courts have repeatedly recognised the serious injustice in his case but said they were powerless to stop Garry’s extradition after his arrest under a European Arrest Warrant in 2009.”

The Chief Executive of Fair Trials International, Jago Russell (pictured below), added: “We are relieved that Garry will now be able to serve the remainder of his sentence back in the UK closer to his family, but this falls far short of justice. We will continue to campaign for reform of the extradition laws that have put him and his family through hell.”

Mann had only five minutes with his lawyer before the trial and did not know what he was charged with until after he was convicted, according to Fair Trials International. He was unable to understand the proceedings due to the poor quality of interpretation. He 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.

Upon his return to the UK, the Chief of Metropolitan Police applied for a worldwide football banning order. In August 2005, Justice Stephen Day refused to grant the order, concluding that Mann's Portuguese trial could not be relied on as it was “so unfair as to be incompatible with the respondent's right to a fair trial.”

In October 2008, British police arrested Mann under a European Arrest Warrant issued by Portugal requiring him to serve his two-year prison sentence. His extradition was ordered by the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in August 2009.

Mann's legal team made a number of challenges to the extradition, which were all refused by the High Court. Lord Justice Moses, however, commented that “a serious injustice” had been committed against Mann. “It is just an embarrassment for everybody, this whole case, and it ought to disappear.”

The court requested that a diplomatic solution be sought. It was hoped the “ECHR or the diplomatic authorities in the UK or in Portugal can strive to achieve some measure of justice for Mr Mann, a justice of which he has been so signally deprived by those on whom he had previously relied.”

The European Arrest Warrant is a fast-track system for surrendering people from one European country to another to face trial or serve a prison sentence. It has removed many of the traditional safeguards in the extradition process. If a court in one country demands a person’s arrest and extradition, courts and police in other countries must act on it.

In 2009, this fast track extradition system was used to extradite over 4000 people across the EU (700 people from the UK alone).

Fair Trials International is a human rights charity which provides assistance to people arrested in a country other than their own. It campaigns for reform to fight the underlying causes of injustice in cross-border cases.  

1 comment:

  1. The European Arrest Warrant system cuts through most of an individual's rights, as seen in this case. Despite the UK legal authorities encouraging a diplomatic solution to the embarassing case, where is the evidence that anything at all was done? Which Minister should we write to? Who was her Majesty's Ambasador to Portugal at the time? This is the sort of problematic legal case that should be sorted out despite the law, not pursued rigorously to the letter of the law however inappropriate.

    Next, the Serena Wylde' case.....

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