BANGKOK (Reuters) – A refugee Bahraini footballer with residency standing in Australia boarded a flight for Melbourne early on Tuesday after Bahrain dropped its bid to have him extradited from Thailand, bringing to an finish a case that had drawn worldwide criticism.
Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and acquired refugee standing in Australia, was arrested in November final yr at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport whereas on a honeymoon journey, following an Interpol discover issued on the Gulf state’s request.
He was seen chatting fortunately earlier than boarding a Thai Airways flight that was due to depart for Melbourne shortly after midnight. Araibi has lived in Australia since 2014 and performs there for a native soccer membership.
The detention of Araibi, who appeared together with his toes in shackles at a courtroom listening to final week, drew worldwide criticism, with Australian authorities and fellow footballers urging Thailand to launch him. Araibi had stated he confronted torture if returned to Bahrain.
“He is a free man,” Chatchom Akapin, an official within the Thai Attorney-General’s workplace, stated on Monday after Bahrain withdrew its extradition request with out rationalization.
Human rights group Amnesty International, which had lobbied for his launch, welcomed Thailand’s transfer.
“It is only right that he should go back to Australia – where his family, his football club, and the country that gave him sanctuary are waiting,” stated Minar Pimple, the group’s Senior Director of Global Operations,
A Bahrain authorities spokesman declined to give particulars when requested who had ordered a halt to the authorized proceedings.
However, authorities in Bahrain, which has accused Araibi of crimes dedicated through the Arab Spring protests of 2011, additionally reaffirmed their proper to pursue authorized motion towards him.
In a assertion, Bahrain’s international ministry stated it had famous the halt of authorized proceedings and the decision towards the footballer remained in place.
Araibi was convicted of vandalising a police station through the 2011 anti-government protests in Bahrain and sentenced in absentia after he fled. Araibi denies the fees, saying he was enjoying in a televised soccer match on the time of the police station assault.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has stated Araibi was tortured by Bahraini authorities due to his brother’s political actions through the 2011 protests. Bahraini authorities deny allegations of torture.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Monday it had no touch upon the case.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the Thai transfer.
“We greatly respect the process that they have had to work through and we greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others,” he informed a information convention.
On social community Twitter, former Australia soccer captain Craig Foster, who had helped foyer officers at world governing physique FIFA, stated, “My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to the Thai government for upholding international law.”
Additional reporting by Paulina Duran in SYDNEY and Aziz El Yaakoubi in DUBAI; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Gareth Jones