RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A federal appellate court panel has ruled a bipolar man who said he was repeatedly tortured in Tanzania should qualify for asylum in the United States.
The Homeland Security Department tried to deport Tumaini Temu back to Tanzania in 2010, four years after his temporary visa expired.
Temu applied for asylum and claimed he was persecuted in his home country due to his mental illness, which is considered demon possession in Tanzania, Courthouse News Service reported.
An immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals denied his application, but a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., reversed the decision on a split vote.
During the asylum hearing, two witnesses testified that Tanzanians consider mental illness contagious, Courthouse News Service said.
Temu testified that hospital nurses bound his hands and feet for 5 to 7 hours a day while they beat him with leather straps.
"The record is unequivocal about what motivated the nurses' and guard's behavior," Judge Roger Gregory wrote. "The record also shows that while binding Mr. Temu and bearing him with leather straps, the nurses said on multiple occasions, 'this is how we treat people who are mentally ill like you.'"
Temu came to the United States after his family rejected him, and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
He has since learned that he could work and function independently with medication.