Bahraini Footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi to Appear In Thai Court
By Staff, Reuters
Australian footballer and refugee of Bahraini origin Hakeem al-Araibi facing extradition back to his birth country, will appear in court on Monday nearly two months after he was first detained by Thai authorities.
Al-Araibi's lawyer, Nadthasiri Bergman, told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that Thai prosecutors on Friday tabled the official extradition on behalf of Bahrain and he will appear before the criminal court in Bangkok.
Al-Araibi will be asked during what is expected to be a brief, closed appearance, if he is willing to be extradited to Bahrain - he will indicate that he does not wish to be - and his lawyer will receive a copy of the extradition request, which was submitted to Thai authorities earlier this week.
His legal team is expected to have up to 60 days to prepare their defense of the footballer ahead of a subsequent court appearance.
Meanwhile, Thailand's Attorney-General's office determined that the request is in line with the country's extradition law, according to Chatchom Akapin, director of the office's international affairs department.
The footballer escaped Bahrain and fled to Australia nearly five years ago. He has been granted official refugee status by Australia and plays soccer for the Pascoe Vale Football Club in Melbourne.
His case has become increasingly high-profile, with rallies in support of him held in Australia and other global cities on Friday.
Al-Araibi said he was tortured by Bahraini authorities after being arrested in 2012 and convicted on trumped up charges of vandalizing a police station. He fears being tortured, or even killed, if he is returned to Bahrain.