By SOPHIE MCCARRICK [email protected]
Graham Mitchell, a British man who was facing extradition to Portugal for a charge he was acquitted of 17 years ago, speaks of his relief as the case against him is dropped by Portuguese authorities.
Graham, from Canterbury, England, was cleared of attempted murder of German tourist, Andre Jorling, in 1995 after spending a year in pre-trial detention at the prison of Faro. However he was arrested unexpectedly at his home in Kent on March 6 and was accused of being a fugitive suspected of murder.
Faced with a European Arrest Warrant, the 49-year old has since been haunted by the thought of having to return to Portugal for a retrial in a murder case, despite the alleged victim being alive (see Algarve Resident edition March 23).
According to his lawyers, Portugal finally decided to remove the extradition request, along with all charges against him due to the amount of time that has passed.
With an “enormous weight” lifted from his shoulders, Graham said: “I am thrilled that the criminal charges against me are now extinct. Events since March 6 have brought back many unpleasant memories and my health has suffered as a result.
“My family and I have been through hell. I’d like to thank my legal team, family, friends and colleagues – the support I have received has made the whole episode slightly more bearable,” he concluded.
During his ordeal, Graham was subjected to several court cases, spent one night at HMP Wansworth, where he was treated as a Category A prisoner, was made to turn over his passport along with £5,000 and report to police on a daily basis.
Following his “treatment” in Portugal 18 years ago, Graham says he now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was “enhanced dramatically through this case re-opening”.
Fair Trials International (FTI), a human rights charity that provides assistance to people arrested in a country other than their own. Their remit is to ensure those accused receive a fair trial and they supported Graham in 1995 and again this year.
Chief Executive of FTI, Jago Russell, told the Algarve Resident: “We are delighted that the Portuguese authorities have finally seen sense and brought Graham’s needless ordeal to an end. It would have been a grave injustice if the EU’s fast track extradition system had been used to subject Graham to another trial in Portugal, so many years after he was acquitted.
“Prosecutors should think twice before issuing these tick-box extradition requests and reforms must be made now to stop future cases of injustice.”