Refugee Bahraini footballer detained for 60 more days

Refugee Bahraini footballer detained for 60 more days

Hakeem Ali AlAraibi, detained on Nov 27 at Suvarnabhumi airport at the request of the Bahrain government. The Criminal Court on Tuesday approved a request for his detention for another 60 days, pending an extradition hearing in court. (Photo provided)
Hakeem Ali AlAraibi, detained on Nov 27 at Suvarnabhumi airport at the request of the Bahrain government. The Criminal Court on Tuesday approved a request for his detention for another 60 days, pending an extradition hearing in court. (Photo provided)

The Criminal Court on Tuesday approved the detention of a Bahraini footballer with refugee status in Australia for another 60 days, as Bahrain seeks his extradition.

The Criminal Court on Monday approved the prosecution's request for an arrest warrant for 25-year-old Hakeem Ali AlAraibi.  

Immigration police on Tuesday took Mr AlAraibi to the court and applied to detain him for a further 60 days to allow procedures for his extradition. It was approved.

Last Friday, the Attorney-General's Office submitted the AlAraibi extradition case to the Criminal Court on behalf of Bahrain, because there is an outstanding arrest warrant for him in the Arab Gulf state.

A Bahrain court sentenced Mr AlAraibi in absentia to 10 years in prison for vandalism of a police station, illegal assembly, illegal possession of Molotov cocktails and causing damage to other people's vehicles during the Arab Spring. 

Mr AlAraibi was stopped by immigration police on Nov 27 after arriving in Bangkok from Australia for a vacation with his wife, following a request from Bahrain. 

His lawyer, Natthasiri Bergman, said on Tuesday she had opposed the prosecution’s request to detain AlAraibi on two major grounds -- that his detention was unlawful and there was no reason to detain him.  The court still ruled in the prosecution's favour, she said.

If the prosecutors asked the court to start an extradition hearing, she would fight it. She had cash prepared to place as surety for his temporary release.

Chatchom Akkhapin, director general of the Office of the Attorney General’s International Affairs Department, said public prosecutors would proceed with the extradition, having received a formal request from Bahrain authorities.

If Mr AlAraibi agreed to fight the charges in Bahrain, there would be no extradition hearing. Instead,  the court would detain him pending his deportation to his home country. 

Thailand has no formal extradition agreement with Bahrain.

Mr AlAraibi told a foreign media crew he had done nothing wrong in Bahrain and was wrongfully convicted. He and his wife wanted to go back to Australia, where he has official refugee status. He would be tortured if forced to return to Bahrain.

He has denied even being in Bahrain at the time of the offences.

Mr AlAraibi plays for the semi-professional club Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne, Victoria. 


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