Page last updated at 20:24 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 21:24 UK

Extradited men face prison limbo

Matthew Neale (left) and David Birkinshaw
Matthew Neale (left) and David Birkinshaw say they are innocent

Two Derby men extradited to Latvia on a charge of attacking a policeman have said they are finding it hard to cope.

Matthew Neale, 35, and 33-year-old David Birkinshaw went on a stag holiday to Riga in June 2008 but were arrested after a fight near a bar.

They claim to have been blamed for an attack carried out by others and that witnesses contradicted each other.

The men are being held in cells at Riga's Central Prison and have appealed for a trial date to be set.

Small child

Mr Birkinshaw said they were out celebrating and did not realise there was a problem until he was restrained.

"I struggled but when I realised it was police I said 'I'm really sorry'.

"I thought I would just be taken for questioning but they said 'You attacked a police officer, you go for 13 years'.

"But I said 'What are you going on about? I haven't touched a police officer'."

The men were taken to court and a fine was issued, which they did not pay on their return to the UK.

He added: "I am really, really missing home, my fiancee and my daughter, my two-year-old daughter.

Crowded cell

The pair have been held in the Soviet-era prison since their extradition to Latvia at the beginning of August.

Mr Neale said conditions were tough.

"It is 23 hours a day in a cell with five Latvians and one hour a day you get to go outside.

"Well, not outside, but into another cell, which is about 7m by 7m [23ftx23ft] and you get to walk up and down for an hour."

He was gloomy about their prospects: "I don't think we will get proven innocent, they will try and get something because they have gone to the trouble of getting us over here."

If found guilty, the men could face anything from a suspended sentence to seven years in jail.

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Two men extradited to Latvia on assault charges describe their experience



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