Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Men to face trial in Greece over player attack in Crete

Robert Hughes before and after
Former Oxford player Mr Hughes was in a coma for two months

Five men accused of attacking a south London footballer while he was on holiday in Crete have been ordered to face trial in Greece.

Robert Hughes, 28, from Croydon, an ex-Oxford United player, was stabbed with a broken bottle and stamped on the head, leaving him with brain damage.

The City of Westminster Magistrates' Court ordered the extradition of the men, all from Surrey and Sussex.

Mr Hughes was in Malia in June 2008 when he was attacked by a mob.

He was left in a coma and had to undergo three life-saving brain operations. He has also lost memories since his teens, the court heard.

The men - Curtis Taylor, 20, Daniel Bell, 21, and Sean Branton, 20, all from Horley, Surrey, Benjamin Herdman, 20, from Worth, West Sussex, and George Hollands, 22, from Reigate, Surrey - are accused of serious assault.

The extradition hearing against a sixth man, Joseph Bruckland, 20, of Hookwood, Surrey, who faces the same charge, was adjourned until 29 March for legal reasons.

'Cowardly and savage'

The suspects were arrested in December 2009 after refusing to return to Greece in June for a preliminary court hearing.

Solicitor John Jones, representing the Greek authorities, said the victim could have died in the "cowardly and savage attack".

"The lone victim was attacked and stabbed in the head, then repeatedly kicked in the head and stamped on, fracturing his skull and leaving him in a coma for two months."

He was attacked to take revenge for a clash with one of the defendants during a football match, the court heard.

Defence barrister Alun Jones QC said he would appeal to the High Court within a week on the basis that extradition would be in breach of European law governing the right to a fair trial.

He said: "The victim's family or associates have made a public campaign of it.

"They have gone to the press and enlisted the views of David Cameron and Boris Johnson that these things are things of national importance."

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