Campaigners in Shetland have said they are “cautiously optimistic” with regards to the bail hearing of a young Shetland man of Thai origin who is threatened with deportation.
Sakchai Makao has been held in a high security prison in Durham since early June and was set to appear before North Tyneside magistrates in North Shields on Tuesday of this week.
Sakchai was snatched from his house in Lerwick by police and immigration officers in the morning of 6 June.
He has been living in Shetland with his family since he was ten and in Britain since he was seven, and has indefinite leave to remain in Britain.
Sakchai has been rounded up as one of the more than 1,000 foreign nationals with a criminal record that the home office is keen to deport.
This follows a media outcry that the country is supposedly full of dangerous foreign criminals.
In a remarkable community wide fightback, islanders have made it clear that they don’t regard Sakchai as dangerous, but as a valuable member of society.
A huge campaign to firstly free him from prison and then to fight the deportation order served on him by the home office, continues to gain strength.
In 2004, Sakchai served eight months of a 15 months prison sentence for wilful fire raising, an incident that was viewed as out of character.
More than 7,000 people – a third of the island’s population – have signed a petition calling on home secretary John Reid to send Sakchai back to his Shetland home, and around 800 islanders attended a moving rally last week.
Shetland for Sakchai campaign coordinator Davie Gardner said, “From my point of view I cannot see a reason why they should not release him on Tuesday.
“But we are aware that this is only one minor hurdle we have cleared if he gets out. We hope to be able to get him into some sort of stable life back here in Shetland while the appeal to his notice of deportation takes its course.
“We also have to be prepared that it might go wrong.”