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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Sister condemns deportation bid
Sakchai Makao
Sakchai Makao was jailed in 2004 for starting fires
The sister of a young Thai man taken from Shetland for possible deportation has described his arrest as "dreadful".

Sakchai Makao, 23, who has been on Shetland since he was 10, was taken from his home in Lerwick after a raid by immigration officers.

His detention is believed to be part of Home Office efforts to trace foreign nationals who have a criminal record as he was once jailed for fire-raising.

Mr Makao's sister Uthai told the BBC Scotland news website: "It's not fair."

A major campaign is under way in Shetland to fight the possible deportation of Mr Makao.

'Very worried'

The sports centre worker and talented athlete was jailed for 15 months in 2004 for fire-raising before being released.

He was flown to the mainland on Tuesday and is now being held in Durham Prison.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said he was concerned about the handling of the situation and was working to secure legal aid for Mr Makao.

Speaking from London, the young man's sister said: "Sakchai is very popular and loveable, my mum is very worried and is not sleeping.

"It's a dreadful time. It's not fair what has happened when you consider he has lived on Shetland for most of his life. It's a terrible feeling."

Mr Makao was taken from his Lerwick home to prison in Durham

Close friend David Gardner in Lerwick said he had spoken to Mr Makao by phone in prison and said: "He is shell-shocked.

"He said his door was kicked in and he was bundled into a van, he did not know what was going on.

"I told him the BBC was covering the story and that pretty much everybody was with him.

"It gave him a major boost. Hopefully there will be a successful conclusion."

Petitions have been started by local people to support Mr Makao.

The Home Office told the BBC Scotland news website it could not comment on individual cases, but said foreign nationals had to obey the law.

Mr Makao was sentenced to 15 months in prison in January 2004 for fire-raising.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard the incidents, in 2002, saw a mobile building and car destroyed by fire when he was drunk in "two moments of madness".

Mr Makao has won athletics medals in Shetland, taking part in sports such as the long jump and triple jump.

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