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Briton faces extradition after 17 years

by SOPHIE MCCARRICK [email protected]

A British man who spent 10 months in Faro prison and was cleared of an attempted murder charge 17 years ago has been arrested because of an outstanding European Arrest Warrant which accuses him of first degree murder, even though the alleged victim is still alive.

Graham Mitchell was arrested again on March 6 without warning at his family home in England by three officers from Kent Police and was taken to Canterbury Police Station.

On March 7 he was brought before the Westminster Magistrates Court and accused of being a fugitive suspected of murder.

The now 49 year old from Canterbury was initially arrested by Portuguese police in May 1994, while on a fishing holiday in the Algarve with friend Warren Tozer.

He was charged with the attempted murder of a German tourist, Andre Jorling, and suspected of throwing him over a 12 foot sea wall, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.

However, in court on March 7, Graham Mitchell was accused by Portuguese judicial authority representative, Natasha Draycott, of being a ‘fugitive’ who had been charged with first degree murder, meaning that he should have served a 13 year and four month sentence before leaving the country, despite victim Andre Jorling being alive.

During the hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Graham Mitchell’s representative, Jenny Agnew, said: “We need clarification as to why the arrest warrant says first degree murder when the victim is still alive. We would like to know why this European Arrest Warrant has been issued.”

Graham Mitchell then spent one night at HMP Wandsworth, where he was treated as a Category A prisoner before being released the following day on condition that he turned over his passport, paid a fee of £5,000 and report to police every day.

He told BBC News in a live interview: “I just feel terrified, my wife is terrified, our lives have been turned upside down and nothing is the same. Every waking moment is a constant worry. It’s like going back to how it was when this first started, just like hell on earth.”

According to Fair Trials International, the charity that works for the better protection of fair trial rights and helps defend the rights of people facing criminal charges in a country other than their own, Graham Mitchell experienced unfair treatment during his 10 months of detention at Faro prison in 1994.

They say that throughout his sentence without charges, Graham’s prison guards spat on him and threw bags of urine at him and he was also unable to obtain medical attention for stomach ulcers.

As investigations were pursued while Graham Mitchell was detained, he was provided with poor interpretation and several times was required to sign documents written in Portuguese, despite his inability to understand the language.

Scarred by the ordeal, he has since suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has required cognitive therapy treatments to help him move on with his life.

Laura Mitchell, his wife, told the Daily Mail: “I am frightened to death about what will happen to him. He can’t go back to Portugal after the way they treated him. He is an innocent man.”

She said that officers turned up at their family home without previous contact and with an EU warrant.

“They just took him. It was so quick and he was so shocked,” she said.

A European Arrest Warrant allows the apprehension of any British citizen for crimes anywhere in the EU.

The Fair Trails International charity helped Graham through his original trial and believe that it is every person’s right to a fair trial, whatever their nationality, wherever they are accused in the world and has now stepped in to provide assistance and suitable lawyers for him again.

Fair Trials International’s Chief Executive, Jago Russell, told the Algarve Resident: “There are too many shocking examples of abuses of Europe’s fast-track extradition laws, with people extradited years after an alleged offence and even after courts have cleared them of any wrong-doing.

“The UK government must act now to build safeguards against injustice into our extradition laws and should lead the way in demanding action in Brussels to fix the flaws with the European Arrest Warrant.”

He added: “Graham thought that he had left his ordeal in Portugal, in the past, but nearly 20 years later faces the threat of extradition. We hope that Portugal realises that it would be wrong to extradite Graham so many years after he was cleared, and that they withdraw the request. We fear that if they do not, there may be little chance of stopping the extradition under the UK’s flawed extradition laws.”

Graham’s next extradition hearing is set to take place on March 28, at Westminster Magistrates Court.

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