'I am very scared': Hakeem al-Araibi speaks from Thai prison

08 February, 2019, 09:41 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Hakeem al-Araibi

One of the protesters in Sydney last week was Fox Sports commentator Simon Hill, who was wearing Al-Araibi's number five shirt in solidarity.

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.

The Corrections Department risked facing human rights criticism, Pol Col Naras said, but the public should understand that officials had to ensure the safe transportation of detainees and prevent any attempt at escape.

Australian federal police, acting as the Australian branch of Interpol, has been criticised for apparently failing to notice al-Araibi's refugee status when it notified Thailand of his imminent arrival.

He is fighting an extradition order to send him back to Bahrain, where he fears he will be imprisoned and tortured, as he alleges occurred in 2012.

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

"On our return from the recent AFC Asian Cup, we reassessed our plans due to the ongoing detainment of Australian footballer Hakeem al-Araibi in a Thai prison", U23 team coach Graham Arnold said in a statement.

Al-Araibi was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport in late November after Australian Interpol issued a red alert on him. "By that time legal proceedings in Thailand ... could not be reversed".

"Thailand hopes that Australia and Bahrain will have the goodwill to earnestly work together towards finding a win-win solution to this issue", the ministry's statement said. He says he only wants to return to Australia, where he has lived since 2014 and plays for a Melbourne football club.

A Bangkok court extended Araibi's detention by another two months on Monday, asking him to present his case in April when the judges reconvene.

A Bahraini court sentenced Mr al-Araibi in absentia to 10 years in prison for the attack on the police station.

Australian officials have also been pressing the Bahraini government, Morrison said.

"If you look at the number of foreign defendants, they pay their bail and jump bail and then don't show up in court", Chatchom Akapin, the office's director general for global affairs, said, adding that the policy applied "not only to Hakeem".

FFA had planned since a year ago to play a friendly match against China in Bangkok as part of the team's preparations for the AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers, which will be held in Cambodia in March, but alternatives are now being sought.

Foster, who leads the protests for Araibi's freedom, said the case was politically motivated and represented "retribution from Bahrain to Hakeem".

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne called on Thai authorities to use their discretion in Araibi's case.

He has since spoken publicly about his own torture, saying: "They blindfolded me (...and) beat my legs really hard, saying, "You will not play soccer again".

A Thai court this week extended his detention by another 60 days after which he will have a chance to object to Bahrain's extradition request.



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