Tuesday, July 23, 2019

By the book: Detention of Bahraini footballer defended

Dec 09. 2018
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By The Nation

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The Foreign Ministry has insisted that a Bahraini footballer detained by immigration police will have to stand trial as part of a process determining whether he will be extradited back to Bahrain.

In its statement defending the detention of Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Araibi, the ministry said he was arrested by Suvarnabhumi Immigration officers on arrival from Australia on November 27 in accordance with the Immigration Act 1979.

It said the detention was in response to a “red notice” from Interpol’s Australian office based on a formal request from the Bahraini government.

Al-Araibi is a fugitive convicted of criminal offences under Bahraini law.

The Immigration Bureau said he had been remanded for 12 days from December 3 to give authorities time to examine documents submitted by Bahrain.

The 25-year-old footballer was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 and has spoken out about being arrested and beaten at the start of Arab Spring-style protests in the gulf state in 2012.

He was convicted in absentia on charges of vandalising a police station, but he claims he was playing a match overseas at the time of the alleged offence.

The Foreign Ministry said the Attorney General could within 60 days of his arrest apply to the court for his extradition.

“Once the case is under its purview, the court shall proceed with its stipulated procedure, including thoroughly examining the extradition request as well as all related evidence and testimonies provided by the parties concerned,” the ministry said.

“Mr Hakeem has the right to provide the Court with his views, concerns and evidence.”

If the primary court rules to have him extradited, the footballer would also have the right to take the matter to the Court of Appeals.

“If an appeal petition is made, the extradition litigation process will be final only after the Court of Appeals has issued its ruling,” the ministry added.

The Bahrain Embassy submitted documents to the ministry on December 3. They were forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General as per procedure in the Extradition Act 2008.

Al-Araibi is currently at the Immigration Detention Centre in Suan Plu, Bangkok. He has been informed of the provisional arrest warrant and will be transferred to Bangkok Remand Prison.

Al-Araibi told Agence France-Presse he believed Bahrain was “very angry” with him for giving press interviews in 2016 about his treatment in custody.

“I’m not feeling well because I don’t know what’s going on,” he told the news agency on Tuesday, adding that he feared being killed if sent back to Bahrain.

He believes he was also targeted because he is Shiite and because of his brother’s political activism.

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