Footballer resists extradition from Thailand to Bahrain

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Footballer resists extradition from Thailand to Bahrain

ANKARA

Hakeem al-Araibi is asking not to be extradited to his native Bahrain from Buddhist-majority Thailand, according to media reports. 

On Monday, The Nation newspaper reported that a Bangkok court had remanded al-Araibi, 25, in custody for a further two months. 

The presiding judge has reportedly given him 60 days to officially register his objections to Bahrain’s extradition request.

Trial proceedings are expected to resume in April. 

“Please don't send me back to Bahrain,” al-Araibi reportedly shouted as he entered the courtroom. 

Thailand and Bahrain do not share any extradition treaties. Nevertheless, public prosecutors told the court last Friday that Thailand had accepted Manama’s request since Bahrain had “promised reciprocal treatment of Thais in future”. 

Acting on a notice from Interpol, al-Araibi was detained by Thai police last November upon his arrival -- with his wife -- from Australia. 

Nadthasiri Bergman, a lawyer for al-Araibi, vowed to fight the extradition request with “strong arguments”. 

In 2014, a court in Bahrain sentenced al-Araibi to 10 years in jail on multiple charges of vandalizing a police station.

He soon after fled the country for Australia, where he has been playing football for a local club in Melbourne. 

Al-Araibi denies any wrongdoing, describing the charges against him as “political”.

He says he was playing in a televised football match at the time of the alleged offense.

At the court session in Bangkok, former Australian football captain Craig Foster showed up -- along with other supporters -- to show solidarity with the asylum-seeking footballer.

“Australia is with you, mate!” Foster shouted in the courtroom. “Your wife sends her love!”

The detention -- and possible extradition -- of al-Araiba has prompted demonstrations in Australia and elsewhere in support of the embattled footballer.