Araibi's handover order under study

Araibi's handover order under study

Extradition bid may not meet criteria

Prosecutors are considering whether Bahrain's request for the extradition of a detained football player meets criteria under the Thai extradition law, Chatchom Akapin, director-general of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG)'s international affairs department, said on Thursday.

If the extradition request meets the legal criteria, the OAG will forward it to the court for consideration before a 60-day detention period for Hakeem al-Araibi, the football player, expires next week, Mr Chatchom said.

If the OAG submits the extradition request to the court but the government decides against the extradition, the OAG will have to withdraw the request from the court, Mr Chatchom said, adding the government has the authority to turn down the extradition request based on considerations of international relations.

In the event the extradition request does not meet the legal criteria, the OAG will not submit the request to the court, Mr Chatchom insisted.

When the 60-day detention period expires, the court will release him anyway, Mr Chatchom said, adding the OAG can also inform the court that the extradition request does not meet the criteria so the court will release the detained football player.

Araibi, 25, a former Bahraini national soccer team player, says he fled his home country due to political repression. Bahrain wants him returned to serve a 10-year prison sentence he received in absentia in 2014 for allegedly vandalising a police station -- a charge which Araibi denies.

Araibi was detained upon arriving in Bangkok in November while on a holiday, and the Criminal Court ruled in December he could be held for 60 days pending the completion of an extradition request by Bahrain.

Human rights groups, football governing bodies and activists have pushed for Thailand to release Araibi, who plays for the semi-professional club Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne, saying he risks being tortured if he is sent back to Bahrain.

On Wednesday, Araibi's wife pleaded with Gen Prayut to ensure he is not extradited to Bahrain, saying he will likely be tortured there.

Lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman said Araibi's wife had asked that her name not be published.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also urging Thailand to stop the extradition of the player, who has refugee status in Australia, to Bahrain, his office said.

In a letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Mr Morrison emphasised that Araibi's case is an important matter to him as well as to the Australian government, his office said.

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