Thai attorney general opposes bail for Bahrain refugee footballer

Frederick Owens
February 8, 2019

Al-Araibi was sentenced to 10 years' jail in absentia over the firebombing of a police station in Bahrain in November 2012.

But as a sovereign country that has legal obligations and commitments to the worldwide community, Thailand finds itself in the middle of a case involving two countries competing for Mr Hakeem's custody.

A chained al-Araibi yelled to reporters outside court as he was escorted by prison guards into Monday's hearing in Bangkok.

"This is a fundamental human right that must be protected".

However, the week-long camp will be rearranged and held elsewhere in Asia after FFA decided Thailand was no longer an appropriate destination in light of ongoing detention of al-Araibi, a former Bahrani global who was granted refugee status in Australia and plays for Pascoe Value in NPL Victoria.

On Monday, Mr Araibi told the Criminal Court he refuses to be voluntarily extradited to Bahrain, which has asked for his return to serve a prison sentence for a crime he denies committing.

The Thai government made the announcement in a press conference Wednesday, just one day after al-Araibi appeared in court with his ankles in shackles.

FOOTBALLl Federation Australia has had to perform a rapid U-turn over an Olyroos training camp scheduled to be held in Thailand, amid the growing global campaign to have refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi freed from Thai custody.

The Pascoe Vale FC player was travelling to Thailand for a belated honeymoon when he was detained at Bangkok airport by authorities acting on an Interpol arrest warrant which has been declared invalid.

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Interpol Australia issued the Red Notice request to detain Mr Araibi, although that notice was later withdrawn as it turned out it never should have been issued. "By that time legal proceedings in Thailand ... could not be reversed".

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Thailand was willing to act as a facilitator if Australia and Bahrain agree to sit down and talk.

Al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former Bahraini national team player, has said he fled his home country due to political repression and feared he was at risk of being tortured if he was sent back.

Australia has called for Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to personally intervene and free the semi-professional footballer.

The court hearing the case will need two to three months to give its ruling after the next hearing in late April, said a spokesman for the attorney general's office on Wednesday.

"So between now and then, Hakeem will have to be in custody for at least until August", Trumph Jalichandra told a news conference, adding that he could only be released sooner if Bahrain withdrew its request.

The Australia U-23s were scheduled to train in the country and also play China in a friendly match in Bangkok as part of their preparations for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers which are to be held in Cambodia from March 22.

Thailand's Foreign Affairs Ministry said it had not been previously aware of al-Araibi's case and was not prejudiced against him.

"We've also been pressing that case with the governor of Bahrain as well".

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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