A man wanted in China for the kidnap and murder of a 15-year-old schoolboy has been granted another chance to seek refugee protection in Australia.
The High Court has allowed his appeal against earlier decisions to reject his claim for political asylum.
High Court judges found there was jurisdictional error and his case will now have to be reconsidered.
The man – a Chinese national identified only as FTZK – came to Australia in February 1997 on a temporary business visa, after falsely claiming to be an engineer.
But in May 1997, Chinese authorities arrested two men who implicated FTZK in the kidnap of the boy in Tianjin in December 1996.
When a ransom attempt failed, the boy was bound and thrown through a hole in the ice to drown.
Both the co-accused were executed in May 1998.
China has issued an arrest warrant for FTZK, received by the Australian Federal Police in May 1997.
In 2006 China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a written assurance that FTZK would not face the death penalty if returned and found guilty.
After his visa expired in 2000, FTZK vanished into the community, only applying for refugee status following his apprehension in 2004.
Even before being told he was wanted in China, he sought to escape from the immigration detention centre.
FTZK denied any part in the kidnap and murder.
But his claim that he faced persecution in China because he was a Christian was rejected and he was excluded from protection because of his alleged involvement in non-political crimes in China.
In an earlier decision, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal said FTZK was evasive about his religious affiliations and rejected his claim he had been detained and tortured in China.
Under the High Court’s unanimous ruling, FTZK’s case now goes back to a differently constituted AAT for reconsideration.