Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Hakeem al-Araibi: FFA pledges money in bid for footballer's return

The Melbourne Rebels have been slammed for a The Melbourne Rebels have been slammed for a"tone death sponsorship deal announcement. Twitter
Andrew Cummings | 09 February, 2019, 01:11

Former Australia national team captain Craig Foster and the Australian and global players' unions have been leading a campaign for the release al-Araibi, who plays for a semi-professional club in Australia.

Thailand's handling of the case has also been criticised by Football Federation Australia who has cancelled a scheduled training session in Thailand for the national under-23 team.

The footballer says he faces torture in Bahrain and wants to return to Australia, where he has lived since 2014 and plays for a Melbourne football club.

The Thai attorney general has since said Al-Araibi's fate will be decided in the courts and not by the Thai government.

In his first letter, Morrison called for Thailand to send al-Araibi back to Australia.

On Monday, al-Araibi told a court in Thailand's capital that he refused to be voluntarily extradited to Bahrain.

In a statement released today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Al-Araibi was detained in Bangkok at the request of Australia and dismissed claims it was prejudiced against Al-Araibi.

"Please speak to Thailand, don't send me to Bahrain".

Al-Araibi has been openly critical of the Bahraini government and its record on human rights.

Hakeem al Araibi was convicted in absentia on charges of vandalising a police station in Bahrain. "Indeed, we would not have become involved in the issue had we not received the Red Notice alert from the Australian Interpol and the subsequent formal request by Bahrain for his arrest and extradition", it said.

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the case would be tried in court in compliance with Thai judicial procedures and the government is not in a position to interfere.

Al-Araibi, 25, a former Bahraini national team player, says he fled his home country due to political repression.

It said al-Araibi had been granted bail to travel for a football tournament and had violated the terms while taking "special consideration granted to him as a sportsman".

"I've written to him again, because I was very disturbed at the appearance of Hakeem at the hearing the other day", Scott Morrison said.

It also said that under the Public Prosecutors Act, the case against Al-Araibi could be withdrawn as it was not in the public interest, nor related to public safety or security.

But the pre-tournament camp is now in the process of being moved as worldwide outcry at the treatment of Al-Araibi grows.

"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. "Thailand can, and should, return Hakeem to Australia".

The Thai 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.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) which is also a signatory, separately said the Thai attorney-general should use his discretion to withdraw the case to "reduce pressure from the worldwide community and make our stand to protect refugees from persecution". "In that way, we believe that those following this case in Thailand and around the world will praise both Australia and Bahrain for their efforts".

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