Hooligan 'on verge of breakdown'

Last updated at 14:52 24 June 2004

Firefighter Garry Mann is "on the verge of a nervous breakdown" after senior Portuguese judges rejected his claims that his trial was unfair, his lawyer has said.

Mann believes he is being persecuted by powerful establishment figures and knows he has little chance of returning to his job, according to Stephen Jakobi of Fair Trials Abroad.

Mann was handed a two-year sentence by a Portuguese court for his role in football-related violence in the Algarve resort of Albufeira last week.

He was allowed to walk free pending an appeal following an administrative mix-up as the judge also ordered him deported from Portugal under temporary laws.

Supporters from the Fair Trials Abroad organisation labelled his trial "grossly unfair" and said Mann had no significant previous convictions and denied being a hooligan.

'Waived right to defence'

Mann, 46, of Faversham, Kent, said English translators in the court had struggled, leaving him unable to properly follow the proceedings.

But a council of Portugal's senior judges said Mann's trial had followed standard legal procedure, the BBC reported.

They said he had been given a translator, had accepted a court-appointed lawyer and waived his right to delay the trial in order to prepare a defence.

The judges added that if Mann's appeal fails then he would have to serve the sentence and could be extradited to Portugal.

Mann has claimed he was nowhere near the scene of the riot in Albufeira and says he has an alibi that he was with a friend and his brother in a bar at the time.

Mann said that his brother and friend had both provided evidence during the court hearing to confirm his alibi and claimed that CCTV footage which could have cleared his name had been destroyed.

The Home Office have already confirmed that if the appeal fails Mann could be made to serve the jail term in Portugal.

Such an application would be made to National Criminal Intelligence Service and subject to a ruling by a magistrate.

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