Friday, 19 April, 2019

Bahrain blinks, but Hakeem al-Araibi should have never faced this ordeal

Detained Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al Araibi arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok Thailand Detained Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al Araibi arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok
Jeannette Daniel | 11 February, 2019, 12:23

Mr Araibi was granted refugee status in Australia after fleeing charges in Bahrain connected to Arab Spring protests but was stopped in Thailand in November attempting to go on his honeymoon.

Hakeem Al-Araibi, the refugee footballer detained in Thailand, will be freed from prison after Bahrain Monday made the shock decision to drop its extradition case.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had also repeatedly pushed for his release, saying that he had written letters to his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-O-Cha and stressed "how strongly Australians feel about this".

"My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to the Thai government for upholding worldwide law", former Australia soccer captain Craig Foster, who helped lobby officials at world governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association to intervene on Araibi's behalf, said on social network Twitter after the news.

He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years for vandalising a police station. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional soccer team.

More news: Snow, freezing rain, strong winds expected in Guelph on Tuesday

Bahrain has denied allegations of torture and said Mr Araibi is a fugitive who should be returned.

The Bahraini government had insisted that he should be treated as a simple fugitive and will have an opportunity to appeal his conviction in the country's courts. The Australian government, Fifa and other football bodies have supported his case.

Al-Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously.

It was not immediately clear when Bahrain withdrew its extradition request.

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