With his legs shackled, Hakeem Al-Araibi addressed the Bangkok Criminal Court on Monday as he fights against extradition back to Bahrain.
The semi-professional footballer, who was granted refugee status in Australia two years ago, was arrested in Thailand in December after Bahraini authorities put out a warrant for his arrest in relation to alleged vandalism charges dating back to 2012.
Al-Araibi has stressed his innocence from those charges and claims he faces torture and possible death back in Bahrain for speaking out against the royal family.
“Don’t send me back to Bahrain,” Al-Araibi said as he arrived at court.
— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) February 4, 2019
— James Massola (@jamesmassola) February 4, 2019
Formally denying Bahrain's extradition request in court on Monday, Al-Araibi has been granted 60 days to formulate his defence and will remain in detention until a verdict is given.
An initial court date of April 22 has been set for the case with no bail made available.
Bangkok criminal court judge has granted lawyers for Bahrain australian footballer Hakeem al-Araibi 60 days to prepare their objection to Bahrain’s extradition request. Mr al-Araibi told the judges he believed he would die if he was returned #SakeHakeem
— amanda hodge (@hodgeamanda) February 4, 2019
Former Socceroo Craig Foster has led the fight to release Al-Araibi and stressed the injustice of his continued detention.
“We cannot have a situation where an athlete is in a country like Thailand and then arbitrarily detained,” Foster said from Bangkok on Monday.
"International sports has to be really forceful in condemnation of Bahrain and Thailand in terms of the way they conduct themselves."
Al-Araibi's wife, who is back in Australia, recently spoke out against her husband's situation and declared he will be killed should he be sent back to Bahrain.
A range of footballers have voiced their support for Al-Araibi on social media with Didier Drogba and Jamie Vardy just a few that have sent out messages.