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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Deportation notice served on man
Sakchai Makao
Sakchai Makao was jailed in 2004 for starting fires
A notice of deportation has been served on a young Thai man taken from Shetland for deportation, it has now emerged.

First Minister Jack McConnell has been urged to help Sakchai Makao, 23, after an immigration raid on the island where he has lived since he was 10.

His detention is believed to be part of Home Office efforts to trace foreign nationals who have a criminal record.

Mr Makao's lawyer will now appeal the deportation notice and hopes to get him freed from prison.

Politicians told BBC Scotland they want Mr McConnell to intervene but the Scottish Executive said he could not.

We want to put pressure on the first minister to make a statement on this issue
David Gardner
Friend

Mr Makao was taken to Durham Prison after being arrested at his home on Tuesday.

Lawyer Alexandra Bartrope told BBC Scotland: "They have served him with a notice of deportation.

"We have to formally lodge an appeal within five working days, that would lead to a court hearing to argue this deportation notice should not be in existence.

"I am going to write to immigration and request that they release him anyway pending what happens because he should not be where he is as far as I am concerned."

'Most welcome'

A major campaign has been launched in Shetland to fight his possible deportation.

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

Close friend David Gardner said: "We want to put pressure on the first minister to make a statement on this issue and hopefully bring direct pressure to bear on the Labour government at Westminster.

Jack McConnell
Locals and politicians want Mr McConnell to intervene

"We need to light bonfires under the political people to make sure they sit up and take notice."

Scottish Lib Dem Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has voiced concerns about the handling of the case.

He told the BBC Scotland news website on Friday: "If Mr McConnell would be prepared to make an intervention on Sakchai's behalf then that would be most welcome."

However, a Scottish Executive spokesperson said: "We are aware of the reports but as immigration is a reserved matter it's not something that we would be involved in."

Mr Carmichael added: "I spoke to the immigration director in charge of the case, who was not prepared to overrule the decision. It will go to the minister.

'Urgent review'

"We will get the legal process going if the Home Office do not deal with it properly."

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan said she had written to Mr McConnell and Home Secretary John Reid over the case.

Mrs Macmillan said: "We need young people such as Mr Makao to make the decision to live and work in our communities. The last thing we need is to deport people unnecessarily.

"The Home Office should be more flexible and be more aware of what local communities want.

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

"I totally accept the need to deport dangerous criminals, who are foreign nationals, at the end of their sentence.

"That said, I feel this case is entirely different for a variety of reasons and I hope that the case is urgently reviewed and the decision to deport reversed."

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

There are plans to hold a public rally in Shetland on Tuesday, where organisers hope to attract hundreds of people.

Speaking from London, the young man's sister Uthai earlier 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."

The Home Office said 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.


SEE ALSO
Sister condemns deportation bid
08 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Shetland deportation plan outcry
07 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Police tracking foreign criminals
28 May 06 |  Scotland

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