Soccer player refuses voluntary extradition to Bahrain - 2/4/2019 4:27:55 AM

Al-Araibi was arrested under a request from Bahrain via an Interpol notice that has since been invalidated Human Rights Watch said

Refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi will remain in prison in Thailand for the next 60 days while his lawyers prepare his case against extradition to Bahrain, as he appeared at a Criminal Court hearing in Bangkok.

'Don't send me back to Bahrain, ' Al-Araibi shouted to reporters and supporters on Monday before he entered the court, shackled and barefoot and flanked by guards. "Bahrain won't defend me".

In 2014, Bahraini authorities sentenced him in absentia to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalising a police station.

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

Al-Araibi's wife, who is back in Australia, recently spoke out against her husband's situation and declared he will be killed should he be sent back to Bahrain.

Later, in a crowded courtroom filled with worldwide diplomats in a show of support for the 25-year-old, al-Araibi denied all allegations against him and told the judge he feared being tortured if he was sent back to Bahrain.

Al-Araibi has previously said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while being held in Bahrain previously, and was granted refugee status by Australia, where he made his new life in Melbourne.

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

"We can not have a situation where an athlete is in a country like Thailand and then arbitrarily detained", Foster said from Bangkok on Monday.

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Former Australian football captain Craig Foster and other campaigners were at the court to support the player.

His supporters say he should be freed, declaring that he is protected under his status as a refugee with Australian residency. He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shia faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain.

The soccer player says he fled persecution in the island Kingdom located halfway between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, which has a majority Shia population ruled by a Sunni Muslim monarchy. I want to go home to Australia I don't want to go to Bahrain.

Australian premier Scott Morrison has previously called on his Thai counterpart to release the 25-year-old, saying that returning him to Bahrain would infringe on his rights under global law.

A court filing last week by Thai prosecutors noted that while Thailand and Bahrain do not have an extradition treaty, extradition is still possible by law if Bahrain makes an official request, which they have done, and if the crime is punishable by over a year, is not politically motivated or a military violation. Thai officials previously said a trial could be lengthy, depending on how many witnesses are called by each side.

Representatives from the Australian embassy, as well as FIFA´s Federico Addiechi, also attended the hearing.

Bahrain, which issued an arrest warrant after finding him guilty of criminal charges in 2014, learnt about his overseas trip and requested Thailand to detain him, Don said. "It is a commitment enshrined in our human rights policy", he said.

She said she requested his release on bail but it was denied because the court deemed him a flight risk.

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