England fans 'face Algarve charges'

Hampshire Chronicle: Portuguese police restrain a fan during disturbances at Albufeira on the Algarve during Euro 2004 Portuguese police restrain a fan during disturbances at Albufeira on the Algarve during Euro 2004

Three England fans deported from Portugal during the Euro 2004 football championships have been told to return to face charges of rioting, it was reported today.

Portuguese authorities have named them as arguidos - or suspects - and ordered them to stand trial, with possible jail sentences of five years if convicted, according to Sky News.

The charges are said to date back to June that year when hundreds of England fans clashed with police in Albufeira on the Algarve.

Several dozen England supporters were arrested and deported after summary court hearings.

After arriving back in the UK they were told by British police that no further action would be taken.

Some 21 other England fans were considered for belated prosecution, but because of the time delay they are unlikely to be returned. Meanwhile officials say they have until December to prosecute these three, the report said.

Builder Richard Freeman, from Berkshire, denies being involved in the disturbances and said: "It's the first I've heard of it. After all this time, it's a farce. I've no idea what to do. If I go back what chance have I got of a fair trial? If I don't go, they might extradite me."

Newly-wed Lewis Andrews, from Oxfordshire, said: "I'm not going to court because they might arrest me again.

"I was just walking back to my hotel doing nothing when police attacked me with batons. Why are they bringing this up now, after 10 years?"

The third suspect named by the court is Wayne Finney, from Nottinghamshire, Sky said. His girlfriend said he knew nothing about the new court hearing.

Kent fireman Garry Mann, who is not facing further action, was arrested during the clashes and convicted after a brief trial. Six years after he was deported he was extradited to Portugal and imprisoned.

He returned to Britain in May 2011, having served half his two-year prison sentence in Portugal, and was released in August 2011 from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London.

The father-of-six, who always claimed he was not given a fair trial, said when freed: ''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.''

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''.

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.

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