Thai Court To Hear Bahraini Extradition Request For Hakeem Al-Araibi
A Thai public prosecutor on Friday submitted to a criminal court Bahrain’s extradition request for jailed footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who fled his country amid political upheaval and has refugee status in Australia.
Al-Araibi will have to appear at Thailand’s Criminal Court in Bangkok on Monday morning. His Thai lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman said al-Araibi will submit evidence to the court to fight his extradition.
The case has drawn appeals from Australia’s prime minister as well as soccer’s world governing body FIFA for Thailand to release al-Araibi and send him back to Australia on the grounds he could face torture in Bahrain.
Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and was later granted permanent residence in Australia, was arrested while on honeymoon in Bangkok in November on an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain’s request.
Interpol later rescinded the notice, but Thailand has continued to detain al-Araibi and Bahrain is pressing for his extradition.
It has been reported that al-Araibi will be presented with a choice of whether to return to Bahrain as per the extradition request.
If he refuses he will remain in detention for up to 60 days while both sides build their cases ahead of another court appearance.
Human Rights groups say Bahraini authorities tortured al-Araibi because of his brother’s political activities during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011. The Bahrain government denied the allegation.
Thailand received the extradition request for al-Araibi from Bahrain on Tuesday.
The Attorney General’s office has now determined that the request is in line with Thailand’s extradition law, said Chatchom Akapin, director of the office’s international affairs department.
“This case is not political but a criminal one,” Chatchom told Reuters.
“Bahrain has evidence of Hakeem’s criminal wrongdoing and if he doesn’t want to return to that country then he must contest that in the court and it will take months,” he said.
READ MORE: Bahrain Applies For Extradition Of Hakeem al-Alraibi
al-Araibi was convicted of vandalizing a police station in Bahrain and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.
He denies any wrongdoing, saying he was playing in a televised football match at the time of the alleged vandalism.
Al-Araibi’s wife on Wednesday pleaded with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha not to send her husband back to Bahrain, saying he faced imprisonment, torture and possible death.
Prosecutor Chatchom downplayed any danger to al-Araibi.
“There is also no evidence that he would be tortured if he returns, so he could go back and fight his case in their court,” Chatchom said.
Feature Image: AAP