Refugee footballer will not be extradited to Bahrain: Thai prosecutor

A refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia boarded a flight for Melbourne early on Tuesday after Bahrain dropped its bid to have him extradited from Thailand, bringing to an end a case that had drawn worldwide criticism.

On Monday, Chachom Akabin, director of the worldwide affairs division of the Thai attorney general's office, told reporters that Bahrain no longer wanted to take legal action against Araibi, so his office dropped the case.

A Thai court on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, has ordered the release of al-Araibi after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain.

Supporters attend a rally in Melbourne this month seeking Hakeem Al-Araibi's release.

But as footballers and fans say goodbye to Sala, knowing that their generosity and support helped offer closure to his grieving family, they have everything still to do for al-Araibi.

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

Al-Araibi plays for Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne.

"Thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Government for upholding global law", Foster said.

"We had a phone call from the Foreign Affairs Ministry this morning and they said Bahrain doesn't want him anymore", Chatchom said.

Authorities in Bahrain, which has accused Araibi of crimes committed during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, said the country reaffirmed its right to pursue legal action against him, however.

But the soccer player disputed the charges, telling The New York Times that his innocence was easily documented because he appeared in a live televised match at the time of the incident.

Separately, BNA said Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met Sunday with Thailand's foreign minister who was visiting the island. "They all deserve to be in front of camera now, not only me".

Bahrain wanted him returned to serve a 10-year prison sentence he received in absentia in 2014 for an arson attack that damaged a police station, which he denies.

A journalist from the BBC said negotiations between Thailand and Bahrain led to the agreement to drop the extradition request. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end.

Bahrain continues to face fierce criticism from human rights organizations.

Mr Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously.

Vanessa Coleman

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