Muslims praying in Mecca R 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Hassan Ali )
SYDNEY - An Australian man has been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year
in prison in Saudi Arabia for breaking the country's strict blasphemy
laws during a Haj pilgrimage last month.
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Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs said it was very concerned
about the well-being of the man, named in media reports as Mansor
Almaribe, a 45-year-old father of five.
Australian Government has a universal policy of condemning the use of
corporal punishment amounting to torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment," a spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd
said in a statement.
Australia's ambassador had contacted the Saudi government, seeking leniency, she added.
hundred slashes on his back and he has back problems. I wouldn't think
he'd survive 50," one of the man's sons, Mohammed Almaribe, told the
Australia Broadcasting Corp.
A spokesman from the Saudi justice
ministry did not respond to calls and messages for comment. The
Australian Associated Press said the man had been accused of insulting
the companions of the Prophet Mohammad.
The sentence comes a day
after a Chinese court sentenced an Australian businessman to 13 years in
prison for fraud in a case that raised fresh foreign concerns about
China's murky legal system.