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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK
Good luck rally for Thai deportee
Sakchai Makao
Sakchai Makao was released on bail pending his appeal
More than 200 well-wishers have turned out at a public meeting in Shetland to show support for an islander threatened with deportation to Thailand.

Sakchai Makao, 23, has lived on Shetland since he was 10 but is facing deportation as a foreign national with a criminal record.

He spent eight months in jail for fire-raising two years ago.

Makao, who was held at Durham Jail for two weeks by immigration officials, will have his appeal heard on Friday.

Thousands of people, more than a third of the population of Shetland, signed a petition calling for his release from Durham Jail last month.

And about 800 people turned up to an earlier demonstration in Lerwick in his support.

A judge decided Makao could return to Lerwick pending his appeal against Home Office plans to deport him.

'Overwhelming response'

Shetland for Sakchai campaign co-ordinator Davie Gardner said: "The good luck rally for Sakchai was being held the night before he leaves Shetland for his immigration tribunal hearing in North Shields.

"The response to this campaign, both inside and far beyond the Shetland community, has been overwhelming and totally unprecedented and has had a significant affect on all of us.

Picture from Craig G Chapman Photography
Hundreds of people have offered their support to the campaign

"A great many people want to wish Sakchai well before he leaves for the hearing.

"Given that they have already done so much for him over the past few weeks we felt the campaign should arrange an informal and personal chance for them to say goodbye for now and good luck before he leaves for this crucial part of the current legal process."

Makao earlier said on his return to Shetland: "It was amazing when I stepped off the plane, it's a big weight off my shoulders. I broke down in tears.

"I wasn't surprised that the community was trying to help me as I am part of the community but I was surprised how many signed the petitions."

The Home Office has said it cannot comment on individual cases.

Deportee threat man says thanks
22 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Deportation threat man back home
21 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Thai man bailed ahead of appeal
20 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Sakchai campaign for Tony Blair
14 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
MSP appeals for Sakchai release
13 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Deportee freedom call escalates
12 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles

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