Footballer resists extradition from Thailand to Bahrain

06 February, 2019, 08:25 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • A-League players campaigns for Hakeem

Al-Araibi's continued detention and attempted extradition hold significant implications for the Thai government - firstly, to send him back to Bahrain would undoubtedly damage their relations with Australia and likely breach a number of worldwide laws.

"It's obvious to the world that this is a politically motivated case, this is about retribution from Bahrain to Hakeem who spoke up against the government and others", he said.

He is wanted in Bahrain, where he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail for vandalising a police station.

"Thailand's office of the Attorney-General has publicly confirmed that Thailand's Extradition Act allows for executive discretion in such cases".

A judge denied the 25-year-old bail and gave his lawyers until April 5 to file a written appeal before the next hearing scheduled for April 22.

Former Socceroo captain Graig Foster, who has rallied worldwide support for al-Araibi's cause, including from Federation Internationale de Football Association and the global Olympic Committee (IOC), said Bahrain and Thailand should be threatened with immediate expulsion from world sport.

'Australia is with you, buddy, ' Mr Foster reportedly shouted as Al-Araibi walked by.

Al-Araibi's supporters say he should be freed and is protected under his status as a refugee with Australian residency. Foster has been in Bangkok to push for his release. FIFPro, the global representative organisation for footballers, has been central in attempts to see Hakeem returned to Australia, while Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has called on both Federation Internationale de Football Association and the AFC to exercise their power to help him. Football is with you'.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok said Al-Araibi arrived at court in leg shackles, shouting: "Please don't send me to Bahrain".

Al-Araibi was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on a holiday, and subsequently was held pending the completion of the extradition request by Bahrain.

Bahrain, a Gulf monarchy that is home to the US Fifth Fleet naval base, has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

Campaigners from the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) say he is at grave risk of torture if he is deported. I want to go home to Australia I don't want to go to Bahrain. "Bahrain won't defend me", a chained al-Araibi yelled to reporters outside court as he was escorted by prison guards into Monday's hearing. Thai officials previously said the length of the trial would depend on how many witnesses are called by each side.

Al-Araibi claims his imprisonment is Shaikh Salman taking revenge after he openly criticised the FIFA vice-president, who unsuccessfully ran for the top job at world football's governing body in 2015.

"FIFA is committed to protecting human rights".

Bahrain, which issued an arrest warrant after finding him guilty of criminal charges in 2014, learnt about his overseas trip and requested Thailand to detain him, Don said. "The case that is going to prove whether sport and human rights is substantive, and that the political and huge economic implications coming out of the Middle East region cannot play any role in what is a very basic case of a refugee law".


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