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Five face Greek trial over holiday violence

PUBLISHED: 11:44 24 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:04 25 August 2010

RECOVERY: Victim Rob Hughes with his mother, Maggie Hughes.

RECOVERY: Victim Rob Hughes with his mother, Maggie Hughes.

A GROUP of men accused of a savage attack on a professional footballer outside a Greek nightclub have had their appeal against extradition denied by a top judge.

A GROUP of men accused of a savage attack on a professional footballer outside a Greek nightclub have had their appeal against extradition denied by a top judge.

Curtis Taylor, 20, Daniel Bell, 21, Sean Branton, 20, Benjamin Herdman, 20, and George Hollands, 22, from Sussex and Surrey, at the High Court yesterday failed in their bid to avoid extradition to stand trial in Greece for allegedly attacking Welling footballer Rob Hughes two years ago.

Mr Hughes was 27 when assaulted outside a Malia nightclub in 2008.

The footballer's head was stamped on and hit with bottles by a gang of yobs.

The five men wanted by Greek Police in connection with the attack claim they would face months, possibly years, in a "disgusting" Greek jail without charge, and that to extradite them would amount to a flagrant violation of their human rights.

Mr Justice Blair yesterday described as "disturbing" evidence about prison conditions in Greece which was called "absolutely inhumane" by one witness.

But he told the court the evidence was "not decisive" and "fell a long way short" of proving that the five would suffer human rights violations if extradited.

He added: "Disturbing and deplorable though the accounts of the prison conditions we have seen are, they do not show strong grounds for believing that these appellants, if returned to Greece, face a real risk of being subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Despite the attack, which left Mr Hughes in a coma and in need of a string of brain operations, the footballer has made a spectacular recovery, and has recently returned to playing his beloved sport at Welling Football Club, in Park View Road.

The accused were allowed to fly back to England in 2008 because of a legal loophole.

They were arrested at their homes last December, nine weeks after international arrest warrants were issued against them.

Alun Jones, QC, lawyer for the defendants, said: "It is submitted that the possibility that they will be detained for months, or years, without formal charge, and without bail, in unacceptable prison conditions is repugnant to the spirit of co-operation underlying the European arrest warrants system."

The defendants deny all charges against them.

tim.dickens@archant.co.uk

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