THE Australian government has denied an application for a protection visa for the whistleblower of the May 2000 coup, Maciu Navakasuasua.
In an interview from his Perth home yesterday, Mr Navakasuasua, who works in a mining company under the name Maciu Naqari, said he feared for his life if he returned home.
A letter from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship sent to Mr Navakasuasua on December 14 last year informed him that his application for protection was not granted because he failed to meet the criteria for a ministerial intervention in his case.
Mr Navakasuasua, one of those involved in the planning and execution of the May 19 takeover of Mahendra Chaudhry's Labour Coalition government, was incarcerated for three years on Nukulau Island.
He left Fiji in November 2003 soon after his release and for the past nine years worked in Western Australia as a miner.
Immigration Department Ministerial Intervention Victoria manager Viviana Barrio, in the letter, said: "The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Hon Chris Bowen MP, has personally considered your case and has decided that it would not be in the public interest to intervene. The minister has, therefore, not exercised his power under section 417 of the Act in your case.
"Our records show that your Bridging E visa will expire on 14 December 2012. As you have no further matter before the department, you are expected to leave Australia as soon as practicable."
Mr Navakasuasua expressed disappointment over the decision, saying he was a genuine applicant whose life had been threatened by the 2000 coup supporters in Fiji.
"The whole of Fiji knows I was involved in the May 19, 2000, coup, and that I was incarcerated on Nukulau for my involvement. Unlike those who are coming to Australia from Fiji and applying for protection, they don't have a life-threatening situation back home compared to what I've gone through and experienced," he said.
"Failed politicians and businessmen have a gang ready to slit my throat if I ever return home.
"I can't go home for my life is in danger and my safety is not guaranteed."
Minister for Immigration Joketani Cokanasiga said a deportation order meant he had to return immediately.
Asked on the issue of his safety, the minister said: "If he is genuine, the government will see how he can be protected."
"We still have a job to protect our people abroad," Mr Cokanasiga added.
He urged Mr Navakasuasua to visit the Fiji Embassy in Australia "so the embassy can make a case for him".
"On his claim that he is being threatened, we have to look into it more in-depth."
In the meantime, Mr Navakasuasua has hired a top migration agent in Perth to help him appeal against the immigration department's decision.
* Full story on Monday.