Mon, Dec 10, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Australia urges Thailand to release detained refugee

BAHRAINI EXILE:Hakeem al-Araibi received Australian residency last year and fears he would be tortured if returned to his home county. Canberra wants him back

AP, CANBERRA

The Australian government has called for an Australian-based refugee soccer player to be immediately released from detention in Thailand.

Hakeem al-Araibi was detained on Nov. 27 in Bangkok after arriving for a holiday on an Interpol warrant issued at the request of Bahrain.

Australian Minister for Foreign Minister Marise Payne yesterday said she has raised the matter with her Thai counterpart, Don Pramudwinai, requesting that al-Araibi be allowed to fly back to Melbourne as soon as possible.

He plays for a soccer team in the Victoria state league.

“Australia is concerned by the ongoing detention of Mr Hakeem Ali al-Araibi and calls for his immediate return to Australia,” Payne said. “Mr al-Araibi was granted permanent residency by the Australian government in 2017 in recognition of his status as a refugee.”

“Returning Mr al-Araibi to Bahrain, from where he fled, would contravene his rights under international human rights law” she said.

Al-Araibi on Friday was formally arrested ahead of a court ruling on whether he will be extradited to Bahrain, which he fled four years ago.

He was sentenced in absentia in Bahrain in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station, a charge he denies.

Major General Surachate Hakparn, head of the Thai Immigration Police, said al-Araibi, was being held legally following a request from the Bahraini government.

“The Australian consul got to visit him already,” Surachate said. “We have provided nice halal meals for him three times a day. We are enforcing the law to international standards.”

Al-Araibi has told the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, that he fears he would be tortured again if sent back to Bahrain.

Surachate said the issue would be dealt with by a Thai court.

“For that, we need to wait for the court verdict. The law says he has the right to appeal the verdict. It’s up to the court’s consideration,” he said.

Al-Araibi would be brought before a court tomorrow, he said.

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