17 Apr 2010

Saudi man granted refugee status

8:33 pm on 17 April 2010

A Saudi Arabian man sentenced to death for abandoning Islam has been granted refugee status in New Zealand.

The man's father, a senior official in a state organisation that monitors the observance of Islam, found Jehovah's Witnesses brochures in his home and ordered his arrest and prosecution.

The Refugee Appeals Authority heard he was beaten unconscious, and tortured in custody for three months.

His father seized his assets, but he managed to flee Saudi Arabia last year before the court's verdict was announced.

The man now lives in Hawke's Bay and attends a Jehovah's Witness church there twice a week, while his wife and children remain in Saudi Arabia.