Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Thai attorney general opposes bail for Bahrain refugee footballer

Thai attorney general opposes bail for Bahrain refugee footballer

Thailand's Foreign Affairs Ministry said it had not been previously aware of al-Araibi's case and was not prejudiced against him.

However, Araibi has said he believes he is being targeted over his criticism of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's ruling family.

Australia has appealed to Thailand to release Araibi immediately.

A chained al-Araibi yelled to reporters outside court as he was escorted by prison guards into Monday's hearing in Bangkok.

Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014, where he was granted political asylum in 2017, and plays for Pascoe Vale in Melbourne.

Al-Araibi, who claims he was playing in a televised match when the attack took place, denies the charges.

The 25-year-old was on his honeymoon in November when detained at Bangkok airport by Thai authorities, who were acting on an Interpol arrest warrant that has since been declared invalid.

"If you look at the number of foreign defendants, they pay their bail and jump bail and then don't show up in court", Chatchom Akapin, the office's director general for worldwide affairs, said, adding that the policy applied "not only to Hakeem".

Bahrain wants its former national team player returned to serve a 10-year prison sentence that was handed down in absentia after he was accused of vandalising a police station, a charge he denies.

Interpol Australia issued the Red Notice request to detain Mr Araibi, although that notice was later withdrawn as it turned out it never should have been issued.

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Lt. Gen. Surachate "Big Joke" Hakparn said the recent case of the young Saudi woman briefly held then allowed to depart a refugee can not be compared to that of refugee athlete AlAraibi because the latter was the subject of an arrest warrant justifying his detention.

It also said that under the Public Prosecutors Act, the case against Al-Araibi could be withdrawn as it was not in the public interest, nor related to public safety or security.

"FIFA is committed to protecting human rights".

"The Thai government position is that the government will not in any way intervene or interfere or influence the criminal justice system in Thailand", a spokesman said.

Marise Payne, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, said she was "deeply concerned by his ongoing detention", promising to advocate at the "highest levels" for his release.

"So between now and then, Hakeem will have to be in custody for at least until August", Trumph Jalichandra told a news conference, adding that he could only be released sooner if Bahrain withdrew its request.

The former Bahraini global will face court again in April as he looks to avoid extradition back to his homeland where he claims he'll face torture and possible death for speaking out against the royal family.

Governing body Football Federation Australia (FFA) on Wednesday cancelled the under-23 men's national team plans to hold a training camp and a friendly game in Thailand ahead of the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers in March.

He has since spoken publicly about his own torture, saying: "They blindfolded me (...and) beat my legs really hard, saying, "You will not play soccer again".

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