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'He is a free man' - refugee Bahraini footballer heads home to Australia

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'He is a free man' - refugee Bahraini footballer heads home to Australia

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Juarawee Kittisilpa

 

2019-02-11T193429Z_1_LYNXNPEF1A1JY_RTROPTP_4_THAILAND-BAHRAIN-REFUGEE.JPG

Released Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al Araibi is seen while boarding a plane, at Bangkok's International Airport, in Bangkok, Thailand, February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

 

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia boarded a flight for Melbourne early on Tuesday after Bahrain dropped its bid to have him extradited from Thailand, bringing to an end a case that had drawn international criticism.

 

Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was arrested in November last year at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport while on a honeymoon trip, following an Interpol notice issued at the Gulf state's request.

 

He was seen chatting happily before boarding a Thai Airways flight that was due to leave for Melbourne shortly after midnight. Araibi has lived in Australia since 2014 and plays there for a local soccer club.

 

The detention of Araibi, who appeared with his feet in shackles at a court hearing last week, drew international criticism, with Australian authorities and fellow footballers urging Thailand to release him. Araibi had said he faced torture if returned to Bahrain.

 

"He is a free man," Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General's office, said on Monday after Bahrain withdrew its extradition request without explanation.

 

Human rights group Amnesty International, which had lobbied for his release, welcomed Thailand's move.

 

"It is only right that he should go back to Australia – where his family, his football club, and the country that gave him sanctuary are waiting," said Minar Pimple, the group's Senior Director of Global Operations.

 

A Bahrain government spokesman declined to give details when asked who had ordered a halt to the legal proceedings.

 

ARAB SPRING

However, authorities in Bahrain, which has accused Araibi of crimes committed during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, also reaffirmed their right to pursue legal action against him.

 

In a statement, Bahrain's foreign ministry said it had noted the halt of legal proceedings and the verdict against the footballer remained in place.

 

Araibi was convicted of vandalising a police station during the 2011 anti-government protests in Bahrain and sentenced in absentia after he fled. Araibi denies the charges, saying he was playing in a televised soccer match at the time of the police station attack.

 

New York-based Human Rights Watch has said Araibi was tortured by Bahraini authorities because of his brother's political activities during the 2011 protests. Bahraini authorities deny allegations of torture.

 

Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday it had no comment on the case.

 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the Thai move.

 

"We greatly respect the process that they have had to work through and we greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others," he told a news conference.

 

On social network Twitter, former Australia soccer captain Craig Foster, who had helped lobby officials at world governing body FIFA, said, "My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to the Thai government for upholding international law."

 

(Additional reporting by Paulina Duran in SYDNEY and Aziz El Yaakoubi in DUBAI; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Gareth Jones)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-02-12

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Al-Araibi walks free as Bahrain withdraws extradition request

By THE NATION

 

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Bahraini soccer player with Australian refugee status Hakeem Al-Araibi (C) walks while escorted by Thai prison officers following an extradition hearing at the Criminal Court in Bangkok, 04 February 2019. // EPA-EFE PHOTO

 

BAHRAINI fugitive footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who was facing an extradition trial in Bangkok since his detention in November last year, yesterday walked free after his country decided to withdraw its extradition request.
 

Bahrain’s decision yesterday ended all judicial proceedings in the Thai court. Al-Araibi, 25, rejoined his wife who was with him when he was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport on November 27. They were about to visit Bangkok for a honeymoon trip when al-Araibi was arrested following an Interpol red notice initiated and then later cancelled by the Australian Interpol police.

 

Chatchom Akapin, director-general of the Attorney General’s International Affairs Department, said the Foreign Ministry had told his office yesterday morning that Bahrain wanted to withdraw the extradition request.

 

Following the development, his office resolved in a meeting that it would not proceed with the trial against al-Araibi. Chatchom’s office moved a petition before the Criminal Court, stating its intention to withdraw the case, which the court accepted. Thailand and Bahrain do not have an extradition treaty but an extradition is possible in the spirit of reciprocation and cooperation.

 

Bahrain claimed in its extradition request that al-Araibi faced a series of criminal charges reportedly during an uprising, including arson, illegal gathering and assaults, as well as possessing firearms and explosives. In 2014, a Bahraini court sentenced him to 10 years in prison in absentia for damaging a car.

 

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday it had learned about the withdrawal of the extradition case by the Thai side. However, the 10-year jail sentence on al-Araibi remained in place.

 

Al-Alraibi had the right to appeal the ruling, while the Bahraini government reaffirmed its right to pursue all necessary legal action against him.

 

It insisted that an arrest warrant was issued for him because he had jumped bail after being granted special permission to participate in a tournament in Qatar from where he fled to Iran. 

 

Al-Araibi has permanent residency in Australia and has lived there for five years. His arrest and detention by Thai authorities severely strained Australia-Thailand diplomatic ties. Since the arrest of al-Araibi hit global headlines, Canberra has been at the forefront of the demand for his immediate release, arguing that he was a refugee with Australian residency and therefore should not have been arrested to face an extradition trial.

 

Bangkok, however, argued that it was Canberra that had flagged the Interpol red notice about his visit to Thailand, which had alerted Bahrain and led to its request to Thailand to arrest him. By the time the “red notice” was withdrawn, extradition proceedings in the Thai court had already begun, according to the Thai side. Bilateral ties dived to a point where even Australia’s sporting organisations boycotted Thailand, including cancelling a football friendly scheduled to be held here in March, in protest over the detention.

 

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said that Thailand was caught in the middle of a conflict between Bahrain and Australia and it had nothing to gain from detaining the Bahraini. He had urged both countries to hold talks and find an acceptable solution. The tensions from the detention even played out on social network platforms. Those agreeing with Australia initiated the hashtag #SaveAkeem only to be countered by hashtag #SaveThailand.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30363952

 

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-- © Copyright The Nation 2019-02-12

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My guess a lot of strings had to be pulled here make sure you kiss the ground when you land in Aussie

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3 hours ago, webfact said:

The detention of Araibi, who appeared with his feet in shackles at a court hearing last week, drew international criticism,

good result but along the way thailand tripped over it's own feet; seems habitual

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5 minutes ago, YetAnother said:

good result but along the way thailand tripped over it's own feet; seems habitual

Tripped over its own SHACKLED feet.

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The guy is lucky to be important, or he likely would be in jail already, and not in Thailand or Australia. Glad that he did not want to go somewhere else.

Geezer

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5 hours ago, webfact said:

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the Thai move.

"We greatly respect the process that they have had to work through

respect the process...

me, I suspect that process...

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on Australian news a few minutes ago, Bahrain has served papers on the Australian Ambassador in Saudi Arabia for the arrest of Hakeem Al Araibi and extridiction to Bahrain.

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Good news all around with the international news outlets reporting that he could not have possibly been where the Bahraini govt says he was when the incident took place, it was bad PR for Thailand to have him in prison here.

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Home??? Do you mean the country where they do not want any refugees? The country that informed Thailand in the first place? 

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Thailand releases Bahraini footballer

 

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BANGKOK, 12th February 2019 (NNT) - Thailand has returned refugee Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi to Australia after authorities withdrew an extradition case against him.

 

Director of the International Affairs Department in the Office of the Attorney General, Chatchom Akapin said on Monday that the Bahraini government decided to end its pursuit of Hakeem who fled his homeland for Australia in 2014 and was later granted refugee status by the Australian government.

 

Bahrain’s decision led to the withdrawal of the extradition case against Hakeem.

 

He said the decision by Thai authorities was made under Section 21 of the Prosecution Act which allows for cases to be dropped if they are not in the public interest.

 

According to the latest report, Hakeem left Suvarnabhumi Airport on Thai Airways flight TG465 for the Australia city of Melbourne around midnight.

 

Thai authorities arrested Hakeem on November 27th, last year. The arrest was made after Bahrain issued an Interpol Red Notice for his detention on November 7. He was accused of vandalizing a police station in 2012.

 

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-- nnt 2019-02-12

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Yes and lots of member saying I should know the facts about this case on another post that has been closed.bahrain has not issued an illegal Interpol red notice.no single country can.they apply to the general secretariat of Interpol who then vets and makes sure it complies with each case before publishing a red notice.so it isn't Bahrain who have messed up.the whole idea of Interpol is to find the whereabouts of a person and detain them as there whereabouts and status are unknown.if Bahrain had known he was in Australia they would of applied direct to them as they are doing now.how on earth Interpol would of known about his refugee status and where he was and his travel plans is just speculation by some members.so there was no illegal red notice.so now Bahrain has found out his whereabouts they have applied for his extradition which will be turned down for sure.

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At last. But why so late? The red notice was withdrawn 3 days after his arrest. That would be the day he should have been freed immidiately. I am not saying the arrest was justified at all.

 

And not talking about his treatment, presenting him in shackles 

and the barbaric conditions in Thai prisons (remember the two possibly wrongly accused Burmes guys from Koh Tao?)

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Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi arrives in Melbourne

 

2019-02-12T023559Z_1_LYNXNPEF1B03F_RTROPTP_4_THAILAND-BAHRAIN-REFUGEE.JPG

 

Hakeem al-Araibi, a refugee Bahraini footballer who was released from a Thai prison, arrives in Melbourne, Australia February 12, 2019 in this still image taken from video. Australian Pool via REUTERS TV

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