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The Latest: Thai court sets April hearing for soccer player

The Latest on a detained soccer player’s extradition case in Thailand (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

A soccer player who has refugee status in Australia has told a Thai court that he refuses to be voluntarily extradited to Bahrain.

His home country has asked for his return to serve a prison sentence for a crime he denies committing.

Hakeem al-Araibi’s rejection of extradition means a trial will have to be held to determine whether Thai authorities will send him to Bahrain, where he fears he is at risk or torture, or release him so he can return to Australia.

His supporters say he should be freed, declaring that he is protected under his status as a refugee with Australian residency.

The Bangkok court set an April 22 date for a next hearing. Thai officials previously said a trial could be a lengthy process, depending on how many witnesses are called by each side.

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9:15 a.m.

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.

Bahrain wants him to serve a 10-year prison sentence he received in absentia for vandalizing a police station, which he denies.


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