TUESDAY, February 12
Refugee Hakeem al-Araibi is on his way home to Australia after Bahrain dropped extradition proceedings against him and he was released from a Thai prison late last night.
Mr al-Araibi boarded a Thai Airways flight just after midnight local time and is expected to arrive in Melbourne this afternoon.
A big crowd of supporters will be at the airport to welcome him home, including the Pascoe Vale Football Club, and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster.
Thai prosecutors on Monday submitted a court request to withdraw the case to extradite Mr al-Araibi to Bahrain, where he faces a 10-year prison sentence for an alleged arson attack that damaged a police station. He has denied those charges and said the case was politically motivated.
It is believed Bahrain agreed to drop extradition proceedings against him after talks between Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and the Thai Foreign Minister over the weekend.
Officials in Bahrain said the country, “reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against” Mr al-Araibi.
“[The] guilty verdict against Mr al-Araibi remains in place and Mr al-Araibi holds the right to appeal this court verdict” in Bahrain’s Court of Appeals, Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement after his release.
Former Australian Treasurer, Peter Costello, once urged Australia to have a baby for mum, one for dad and one for the country.
And now the Hungarian Prime Minister had trumped him with a plan to dramatically increase financial aid and subsidies for families with several children.
During a “state of the nation” speech, Viktor Orban said the move was aimed at reversing the country’s population decline without softening its “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.
The new benefits include:
- a lifetime personal income tax exemption for women who give birth and raise at least four children;
- a subsidy of 2.5 million forints ($US8,825) toward the purchase a seven-seat vehicle for families with three or more children; and
- a low-interest loan of 10 million forints ($35,300) for women under the age of 40 who are marrying for the first time.
Mr Orban, who has made “zero tolerance” for immigration his main theme in the past four years and was elected to a third consecutive term in April, said the initiative was meant to “ensure the survival of the Hungarian nation.”
“This is the Hungarians’ answer, not immigration,” Mr Orban said.
Mr Orban then turned his attention to May’s European Parliament elections, repeating his accusation that the leadership of the European Union wants to fill the continent with migrants, most of them Muslim.
“We have to understand that the European peoples have come to a historical crossroads,” Mr Orban said.
“Those who decide in favour of immigration and migrants, no matter why they do so, are in fact creating a country with a mixed population.
“Europe’s left wing has become the gravedigger of nations, the family and the Christian way of life.”
Fast bowler Pat Cummins has capped the finest year of his career by winning the Allan Border Medal, edging out Nathan Lyon to be named Australia’s leading men’s cricketer.
The star paceman polled 156 votes to surpass Test player of the year Lyon (150) and limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch (146) in Monday night’s count.
Alyssa Healy comfortably won the Belinda Clark Award as Australia’s top women’s cricketer ahead of Megan Schutt and Ashleigh Gardiner.
Allrounder Marcus Stoinis was named men’s ODI player of the year and Glenn Maxwell won the T20 international award.
Both major awards went to first-time winners, with Steve Smith and David Warner ineligible after a four-year Border Medal stranglehold.
“I’ve obviously had quite a few tough years with injury. I always thought Test cricket was the dream but wasn’t sure I’d get up there and forge a consistent career,” he said.
“Going into last summer and the Ashes, five Tests — I’d never done anything like it before so, to get through that, I just had a heap of confidence in my body.
“To do it now, two years in a row, it’s been great. I feel like every time I bowl, my rhythm just feels a little bit better.”
Monday’s count was closely contested, with offspinner Lyon polling top votes in Tests in Adelaide, Perth and Abu Dhabi.
Cummins’ status as a ODI regular gave him the edge over Lyon, who did not poll in either white-ball format.