18/05/2012 14:14 BST

Graham Mitchell Relieved As Portugal Drop Extradition Request For 17-Year-Old Case

A father who was facing trial for a crime he thought he was acquitted of 17 years ago said today he had been through hell but was relieved that Portuguese authorities had dropped their extradition request.

Graham Mitchell, 49, was wanted to stand trial for the attempted murder of a German tourist in the Algarve in 1994, but the Portuguese authorities have removed their extradition request due to the amount of time that has passed, campaigners said.

Mr Mitchell said: "My family and I have been through hell. I am thrilled that the criminal charges against me are now extinct."

Mr Mitchell and his friend Warren Tozer were originally arrested over an alleged assault on Andre Jorling, who was left paralysed from the waist down after falling off a 12ft sea wall.

They were cleared in 1995 in a high-profile trial in Portugal, which was recorded by the BBC's Panorama programme.

But Mr Mitchell - a photographer who lives in Canterbury, Kent, with his wife Laura and two children - was re-arrested on March 6 by British police acting on a European arrest warrant in relation to the case and held overnight at Wandsworth prison.

Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials International, said: "We are delighted that Portuguese authorities have 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.

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