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Saudi sentences Aussie to 500 lashes

  |   Dec. 7, 2011 at 7:53 AM
MEDINA, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Australia has appealed for leniency from a Saudi Arabian court that sentenced an Australian man to 500 lashes and one year in jail for blasphemy.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has been asked to personally intervene in the case of Mansor Almaribe, 45 who was arrested by the authorities while on pilgrimage to Mecca Nov. 14 and charged with blasphemy, CNN said.

"The ambassador has urgently contacted Saudi authorities and will make strong representations including to key figures in the Saudi government, seeking leniency," Kate Sieper of the Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade ministry told the U.S. network.

The Melbourne (Australia) Herald Sun reported Rudd is in close contact with the ambassador and is monitoring the situation. The newspaper said a consular official was in court when Almaribe was sentenced.

Australian officials told CNN Almaribe was convicted of blasphemy and "making comments insulting to Prophet Mohammed's relatives."

Almaribe's son Issam said his father is sick and suffers from diabetes and back injuries, CNN said.

Blasphemy is punishable by death according to strict Muslim law in Saudi Arabia, CNN said.

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