Bahrain says it could still pursue refugee

Bahrain says it could still pursue refugee

Bahrain says it could still pursue refugee

"FIFA is extremely pleased to see Hakeem Al-Araibi released from prison in Thailand and allowed to travel back to his home in Australia", world football's governing body said.

However, it was understood Bahrain agreed to drop extradition proceedings against him, after talks at the weekend with the Thai Foreign Minister.

Al-Araibi plays for Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne. Araibi denies the charges, saying he was playing in a televised soccer match at the time of the police station attack.

The pro-democracy advocate had been sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in absentia by the Bahrain regime for alleged vandalism but denied any involvement.

Reports from the ABC and BBC say Al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia, is set to be released.

There was no global reaction for previous renditions from Thailand of refugees and asylum-seekers to countries where campaigners said they risked ill-treatment.

On November 27, al-Araibi was anticipating celebrating his honeymoon when he touched down in Bangkok with his wife.

Pressure had been intensifying on both the Bahraini and Thai governments to drop the extradition case, especially after videos of Araibi walking in shackles were circulated on social media.

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Mr Araibi, 25, a former Bahraini national team player, has said he fled his home country due to political repression.

He also believes he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

At a news conference Monday, Morrison said al-Araibi was on his way to the airport, "as a result of the decision of the Thai government not to pursue the extradition".

Hakeem Al-Araibi is led into court in Bangkok during an earlier hearing.

The player's Australia lawyer Latifa Al-Haouli of Sabelberg Morcos Lawyers, told SBS News on Monday legal staff were working with Thailand's department of corrections to secure Mr Al-Araibi's return to Australia. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end.

A report commissioned by Bahrain's own monarch in 2011 found authorities engaged in "a systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment, which in many cases amounted to torture, with respect to a large number of detainees in their custody".

"The football family looks forward to welcoming Hakeem home and providing him with ongoing support after such a hard period", chairman Chris Nikou said.

"We greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others who have raised this case", Mr Morrison said.

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