Refugee footballer freed after Bahrain drops extradition

11 February, 2019, 17:11 | Author: Carlos George
  • A Sad, Shocking Week That Tested Football’s Heart

Australian footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi has been released from Thai prison and is heading home, after prosecutors dropped the push to extradite him back to Bahrain.

Prosecutors made the decision after Thailand's foreign ministry sent a letter on Monday morning indicating that Bahrain had withdrawn its request for Al-Araibi, Chatchom Akapin, director general of the attorney general office's global affairs department, said.

"We have been informed that Bahrain wants to withdraw the (extradition) request. if they don't want him, we have no reason to keep him here", Chatchom Akapin, director general of the International Affairs Department told AFP, adding the process is underway to release him.

Former Socceroos captain and prominent broadcaster Craig Foster led the campaign to have him freed, ABC News in Australia reported.

But as footballers and fans say goodbye to Sala, knowing that their generosity and support helped offer closure to his grieving family, they have everything still to do for al-Araibi.

A police vehicle believed to be carrying Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al Araibi is pictured as it leaves the Bangkok's Remand Prison, Thailand, February 11, 2019. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional soccer team.

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He said Federation Internationale de Football Association has not discussed imposing sanctions on either Bahrain or Thailand over the case.

The pity is, the past two months of detention and fears he would be tortured on return to Bahrain could have all been avoided.

Court spokesman Suriyan Hongvilai said Monday that Hakeem al-Araibi was now being processed for release. Araibi denies the charges, saying he was playing in a televised soccer match at the time of the police station attack.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had in recent weeks has spoken out strongly on behalf of al-Araibi's freedom.

Al-Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten when he was held in Bahrain previously. "He was very strong that he wants to go back to Australia from the beginning", Bergman said.

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