Bahraini footballer Hakeem freed after Bahrain withdraws extradition request
Jailed Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi was freed from detention this evening and was expected to fly out of Bangkok to Australia after the Criminal Court endorsed the public prosecutor’s request to withdraw the extradition case against him.
The public prosecutor in charge of the case, Ms. Setha Thienpilakul, appeared before the court this morning with a request for the withdrawal of the extradition case against al-Araibi.
It was reported that the prosecutor’s move came after Bahrain had withdrawn their request for Hakeem’s extradition.
The Thai court then approved the prosecutor’s request and later issued a warrant for al-Araibi’s release from detention.
Last week, the Criminal Court ordered the footballer detained for another 60 days to give his defense team more time to fight the extradition case.
The prosecutor’s sudden reversal of position came after the Thai government came under heavy pressure from the international community, human rights organizations, international sports bodies including FIFA and the International Olympic Committee all demanding Hakeem’s release and return to his family in Australia where he was granted asylum.
Last week, the Thai Foreign Ministry issued a statement suggesting “Thailand’s good friends” Australia and Bahrain work out a solution based on the ministry’s proposal to have the footballer sent to a third country.
Al-Araibi was detained at Suvarnabhumi international airport on November 27th by Thai immigration officials at the request of Australian Interpol. However, Interpol later lifted the red notice but the legal procedure against the footballer has already begun after Bahrain formally requested his extradition to serve his ten-year jail term for vandalizing a police station during an anti-government protest in 2011.