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Request for Bahraini footballer’s extradition reaches court

BANGKOK: Prosecutors on Friday (Feb 1) asked the Criminal Court to approve the extradition of detained refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi to Bahrain. His lawyer said she would oppose it.

Saturday 2 February 2019, 11:01AM


Hakeem Alaraibi, a former Bahrain national team footballer with refugee status in Australia, is escorted by immigration police to a court in Bangkok on Dec 11. Photo: AFP / file

Hakeem Alaraibi, a former Bahrain national team footballer with refugee status in Australia, is escorted by immigration police to a court in Bangkok on Dec 11. Photo: AFP / file

The prosecution move follows an extradition request that Bahrain sent to the attorney-general on Jan 18. The court accepted the request for consideration.

Immigration police arrested Araibi, 25, on arrival with his wife from Australia for a honeymoon vacation at Suvarnabhumi airport in November, acting on an Interpol Red Notice issued at Bahrain's request the same day he received his Thai visa from the Thai consulate in Australia.

He was travelling on UN refugee documents.

The Bahraini government requested his extradition on Dec 3. A Bahraini court sentenced Araibi in absentia to 10 years in jail in 2014 on multiple charges for vandalising a police station, which he denies.

Araibi says the charges are political, that he was playing in a televised football match at the time of the alleged offences and fears for his life if extradited.

He has been held in custody since his arrival. A court ruled in December he could be held for 60 days.

Araibi fled Bahrain ahead of his arrest and sought asylum in Australia, where he was granted a protection visa and plays semi-professional football for a Melbourne club.

Although Thailand and Bahrain do not have a mutual extradition treaty, prosecutors asked the court to approve the request because Bahrain promised reciprocal treatment of Thais in future.

The extradition could also be approved because Araibi's offences were also illegal under Thai law, with a jail term of more than 12 months, and were not a political or military offence.

Prosecutors told the court they opposed his temporary release and considered him a flight risk.

Araibi’s lawyer, Nadthasiri Bergman, said in a phone interview that she would oppose the extradition request and present a strong argument to the court.

Meanwhile in Australia, scores of demonstrators rallied in two largest cities on Friday to demand that Thailand release Araibi.

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The demonstrations outside the Sydney Opera House and in Melbourne’s Federation Square opposed -Araibi’s potential extradition to Bahrain.

“This is a young man who has been tortured by a country you are working with and are contemplating sending him back to,'” former Australian football team leader Craig Foster told the Sydney crowd in comments directed at Thailand.

The rallies focused on Thailand and Indonesia's proposed joint bid for Asean to host the World Cup in 2034.

“If you want to host the World Cup, you must allow the free transit of players and officials through your country,”' Foster said.

The Melbourne crowd chanted “save Hakeem”' while Professional Footballers Australia chief executive John Didulica implored Thailand to remember Australia’s help in rescuing 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded Thai cave in July.

The rallies also called for Fifa, football’s governing body, to consider suspending Bahrain from future competitions.

“You cannot have the privileges of the international community if you are not prepared to live by its rules or behave by its standards,” Didulica said.

Araibi had been living in Melbourne and played for a semi-professional football team. The 25-year-old was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November and a court ruled in December he could be held for 60 days.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wrote a letter to the footballer to say “stay strong, mate. We will get you home”.

 

Read original story here.

 

 

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Rorri_2 | 09 February 2019 - 15:19:24

"No criticism... just facts, read the act and UN conventions. to check if he is an Australian," I don't need to... "acting on an Interpol Red Notice issued at Bahrain's request the same day he received his Thai visa from the Thai consulate in Australia,"as you often say, read the story, it's all there.

Jor12 | 09 February 2019 - 14:03:39

Secondly, had you read the Act and Convention you would have known that he would have travelled on a Convention Travel Document aka Titre de Voyage because of his refugee status. That's the problem, other than seeing your comments online, there is no point in regurgitating 
incorrect statements from online bush lawyers, or reporters who 
plagarise the same thing. 

Jor12 | 09 February 2019 - 10:36:51

No criticism... just facts, read the act and UN conventions. to check if he is an Australian.

DeKaaskopp | 08 February 2019 - 14:59:24

Pfff, writing the same comment twice? Or is there more than one K ?Pfff

Rorri_2 | 08 February 2019 - 12:36:26

"Australians do not need a visitor visa for 30 day," in your haste, to once again criticize, did you check to see if he is an Australian citizen, or only a resident, big difference, it would be nice if it was reported on what country's passport he was travelling on. Too much haste my "friend."

Kurt | 08 February 2019 - 08:43:20

Mr Araibi is not a australian!  Pfff

Kurt | 07 February 2019 - 19:20:01

this gentleman went to Thai Consulate in Melbourne and got a visa for Thailand.. He has resident. Is not a Australian.   Pfff.

Jor12 | 06 February 2019 - 20:58:29

read the Thai and Australian Embassy website. Australians do not need a visitor visa for 30 day (arriving by air) or 15 day visit (by land crossing) & having a forward ticket.

Kurt | 06 February 2019 - 13:20:44

The footballer has a Australian resident status. Got a visa from Thai Consulate in Melbourne to visit Thailand.
The thai excuse that Bahrain promise for future promised repripocal treatments of thai smells to unethical practices of cost of this public shown  shackled man, a la 19 century money thinking. Thailand made a 'own goal' with this  affair, while not able to think  internationally

DeKaaskopp | 05 February 2019 - 14:51:14

I have a better idea for all those who want to punish Thailand for it.Forget about that world cup.It would hurt them much more to leave immediately or not to come at all.

Jor12 | 04 February 2019 - 20:01:16

Wrong. There is no visa requirements to visit Thailand from Australia. He is not a paid employee of a soccer club.

DeKaaskopp | 04 February 2019 - 17:57:00

"Thailand can never be a world cup host" Nonsense!! All those clamor because of one person. Russia hosted the world cup,Qatar will host the world cup.China hosted Olympic games. And now some overreacting people don't wanna see that Thailand becomes a world cup host.Ridiculous and stupid.BTW,did K notice that Thailand reacted on an Interpol Red Notice?

Kurt | 04 February 2019 - 09:18:00

Is Thailand lawless?  Issued a thai visa at thai consulate in Australia to a foreigner who has there a official refugee status. Is paid employee ( foor ball player) with a Australian club. This double face matter is very bad for thai image. Stay out of it, leave in among Australia and Bahrain. This affairs shows Thailand can never be a World Cup host. Can't be trusted.

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