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Australian Free After Saudi Lashing

Saudi Arabia has commuted the prison term of an Australian Muslim sentenced to a year in prison
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/12/2012, 9:47 PM

Mansour Almaribe, 45, was released from a Saudi Arabian prison after his jail term and punishment for blasphemy was reduced to 75 lashes on Thursday.

Almarbe, an Australian Muslim on Haj, was detained in the city of Medina on November 14 and accused of insulting companions of the Prophet Mohammad.

International outrage was sparked when the father of five was sentenced to 500 lashes and 12 months in jail. 

However, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd's office said he had been granted a pardon from his prison sentence, and was on his way home.

"His corporal punishment was also greatly reduced and administered in a way that did not cause physical harm," a spokeswoman for Rudd said.

Almaribe's had earlier said he suffered from diabetes and heart disease raising concerns the sentence of 500 lashes -- potentially lethal even for a healthy man -- would kill him.

Some reports say Almaribe was allowed to wear a coat while he was being whipped.

Rudd's office said they appealed for leniency to senior Saudi officials and members of the royal family.