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Man who walked to UK from France gets asylum

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One of the entrances to the Euro tunnel. Photo: AFP
16:40 CET+01:00
A Sudanese man accused of walking almost the entire length of the undersea Channel Tunnel from France to Britain has been granted asylum, his representative said on Monday.
Abdul Rahman Haroun, 40, was arrested in Kent, southeast England, in August on suspicion of passing through the 31-mile (50 km) tunnel.
   
Shortly after his arrest Haroun applied for asylum, which was granted on December 24th, though he only got the news Monday in Canterbury Crown Court.
   
"I can confirm, as was stated in open court today, that Mr Haroun has been granted asylum," caseworker Sadie Castle of law firm Kent Defence told AFP.
   
Haroun was charged under an 1861 law on malicious damage with causing an obstruction to an engine or carriage using the railway, but the case has now been adjourned for two weeks so prosecutors can decide whether to proceed with it, Castle added.
   
Haroun, dressed in a grey tracksuit, appeared in court via a CCTV link from nearby Elmley Prison, where he has been detained since his arrest, local media reported.
   
Judge Adele Williams ordered that he be freed on the condition that he reports at his local police station once a week, and he is due back in court on January 18th.
   
He pleaded not guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing.

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His legal team previously argued that their client qualified for protection under Article 31 of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, of which Britain is a signatory.
   
This states that members "shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened... enter or are present in their territory without authorisation."

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