Kent

Portugal drops Graham Mitchell extradition request

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Media captionGraham Mitchell said he was "over the moon" following the news that Portugal had dropped its request

An extradition request for a Kent man wanted in Portugal for a crime he was cleared of in 1995 has been dropped.

Graham Mitchell was acquitted with another man of attempting to murder a German tourist in the Algarve but the decision was overturned a year later.

His lawyers said Portugal had dropped the charges against him due to the amount of time that had passed.

Mr Mitchell, 49, from Canterbury, had been contesting his extradition to Portugal in the UK courts.

He said he was thrilled the criminal charges against him had been removed.

"Events since 6 March 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," Mr Mitchell said.

Passports returned

Along with his friend Warren Tozer, he had been accused of trying to kill 26-year-old Andre Jorling, who was left paralysed from the waist down after falling over a 12ft (3.5m) sea wall in 1994.

After spending more than a year in custody, the men were cleared of attempted murder by judges at a trial in Albufeira.

They were given back their passports and allowed to return to the UK.

Image caption Graham Mitchell and Warren Tozer were cleared of attempted murder 17 years ago

However, Portugal's Supreme Court annulled the lower court's decision in 1996 and ordered that a retrial should take place.

Mr Mitchell, a photographer, said he had been unaware of the ruling.

A warrant was issued at the time to bring the men back to Portugal but it never happened.

A new European Arrest Warrant was issued in December 2008 but it was only in March this year that Mr Mitchell was arrested by UK officers.

He maintained he could not receive a fair trial and that without his co-defendant, who was last heard of in Australia, he would not be able to mount a defence.

It is understood there had been no further contact between the Portuguese authorities and Mr Tozer.

Football fan extradited

Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials International, said it was pleased the Portuguese authorities had "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," he said.

"Prosecutors should think twice before issuing these tick-box extradition requests and reforms must be made now to stop future cases of injustice."

In 2010, football supporter Garry Mann, also from Kent, was extradited to Portugal to serve a prison term for his role in a riot during Euro 2004.

He returned to the UK a year later to serve the remainder of his sentence following a prison transfer.

The former firefighter had denied being involved in the fight and claimed he did not receive a fair trial in Albufeira.

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