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Convicted fan released from prison

England football fan Garry Mann has been freed from jail after being transferred to a UK prison from Portugal where he was convicted of hooliganism, Fair Trials International said.

Father-of-six Mann, a former firefighter, said he was glad to be back with his family and now intended to "finally get on with my life".

Mann, 53, was extradited last year but returned to Britain in May, having served half his two-year prison sentence in Portugal.

Mann, from Faversham, Kent, was convicted over a riot during the Euro 2004 tournament but has always claimed he was not given a fair trial.

After being freed from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, Mann said: "I am glad to be back 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."

Mann was extradited after his lawyers failed in a last-ditch attempt to secure a judicial review of his case at the High Court. After surrendering to Portuguese police at Heathrow Airport, he travelled to Lisbon before being transferred to an undisclosed prison.

A Birmingham City supporter, he was drinking with friends in a bar in Albufeira when a riot involving football fans began in a nearby street. He was arrested, tried and convicted within 48 hours in a case that was described by his supporters as a "travesty of justice".

Mann said he had been the victim of a "witch hunt" by the Portuguese authorities. His legal team said he was only granted five minutes with a lawyer before trial, could not understand the proceedings and did not know what charge he faced until after he was convicted.

Jago Russell, 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."


From Belfast Telegraph