By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
Former fire fighter Gary Mann, the British citizen who was sentenced to two years in prison for his involvement in a riot in Albufeira during the 2004 football championships, has been released from custody.
After spending a year in prison in Portugal and then several months in jail in the UK, the father of six from Kent has finally been released.
Garry Mann said: “I am glad to be home with my family. It was a tough experience to be so far away from home but I’m hoping to finally get on with my life now.”
His release from prison sees the end of a legal battle waged by Garry Mann, his lawyers and the human rights organisation Fair Trials International, a battle which has been ongoing for seven years.
Garry Mann was arrested by police in Albufeira on June 15, 2004 and was then tried and convicted within 48 hours for his involvement in a riot.
It is claimed by Fair Trials International that Garry only had five minutes with his lawyer before the trial and did not know what he had been charged with until he had been convicted.
Following the conviction, Garry Mann consented to deportation from Portugal back to the UK and it was only on October 6, 2008 that British police arrested Garry Mann under a European Arrest Warrant issued by Portugal which stated that he was to serve a two year prison sentence in Portugal for his crimes four years earlier.
In an earlier interview with the Algarve Resident, Garry Mann spoke of how he felt he had been used as a scapegoat in the case: “I was made an example of to bring an abrupt end to any more violence. I believe that the English and Portuguese authorities conspired against me making me a scapegoat.”
Central to the entire case was the use of the European Arrest Warrant, a fast track system for surrendering people from one European country to another to face trial or prison sentence.
Fair Trials International believe the warrant has “removed many of the traditional safeguards in the extradition process,” adding that the association has “serious concerns about Europe’s fast track system for extradition and defence rights across the EU”.
Jago Russell, the Chief Executive of Fair Trials International, said: “The European Arrest Warrant has turned this family’s life upside down. Sadly, until it is reformed and we have better standards of justice in Europe others will suffer the same fate. We are delighted that Garry is finally able to return home but he should never have been extradited to Portugal following a trial which can only be described as a travesty of justice.”
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