Hakeem Al-Araibi to be released by Thailand court

A Thai court has ordered the release of refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain.

Al-Araibi, a refugee who lives and plays for Melbourne-based Pascoe Vale in Australia, has been held in Thailand since November at the request of Bahrain after being arrested in Bangkok while on honeymoon.

But Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General’s office, says Al-Araibi will now be freed.

“The court will now issue an order to release Mr Hakeem from jail today,” said Chatchom.

“There are no grounds to hold him anymore. It is his right to decide where he will go next. He is a free man.”

The detention of Araibi, who appeared at a court hearing in shackles last week, drew international criticism, with Australian authorities and fellow footballers urging Thailand to release him. Bahrain has since withdrawn its request for Al-Araibi’s extradition.

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

Al-Araibi has always maintained his innocence, insisting he fled his home country due to political repression and fears he will face torture if sent back.

He left Bahrain for Australia in 2014, which granted him political asylum in 2017.

Source: Sky Sports

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