BANGKOK (AP) — A soccer player who has refugee status in Australia has pleaded for Thailand to not send him home to Bahrain, which is seeking his extradition to serve a prison sentence for a crime he denies.
Hakeem al-Araibi spoke as he arrived Monday at the Bangkok court hearing his case. He said, “Don’t send me to Bahrain. Bahrain won’t defend me.”
Soccer governing bodies and rights activists have urged Thailand to let him return to Australia where he lives and plays for a semi-professional team.
The court could order another detention while his extradition is processed, or if al-Araibi refuses to return to Bahrain willingly, a trial would be held.
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Bahrain wants him to serve a 10-year prison sentence he received in absentia for vandalizing a police station, which he denies.