» News

Australian Top Cop Apologizes to Bahraini Refugee Footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi for Thai Arrest

2019-10-22 - 5:38 p

Bahrain Mirror- dpa: Australian police's new chief has personally apologized to Bahrain-born refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who spent months behind bars in Thailand because of a series of bureaucratic bungles. 

The 25-year-old, then an Australian permanent resident, was arrested in Bangkok while on a family holiday in late November upon request by Bahraini authorities.

He spent 76 days in jail before Thai authorities dropped the deportation case against him following a global outcry. 

Reece Kershaw, who took the helm of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in October, said on Monday that a trail of bureaucratic bungles led to al-Araibi's detention.

"I have delivered a letter to Mr al-Araibi to extend AFP's apology for his unfortunate detention in Thailand," he told a Senate committee in Canberra on Monday.

"Please be assured that this is in no way related to your protection status, as the AFP had no awareness you had been granted protection in Australia until after your detention," he wrote to al-Araibi.

It has been revealed that an Australia border force officer failed to inform the AFP and the department of home affairs that al-Araibi was under protection, which would have prevented the alert sent to Thai officials of an Interpol red notice against the footballer.

The former Bahrain national football player had been convicted in Bahrain in absentia in 2014 on charges of vandalizing a police station in 2012 and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. 

He has always denied the allegation, saying he was tortured in his home country for criticizing a relative of the royal family.

Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014 and was accepted as a refugee, living in Melbourne. In March, he became an Australian citizen.

Arabic Version