WHEN Maciu Navakasuasua went public in 2005 revealing names of those he claimed masterminded the May 19, 2000 coup, it was also a turning point in his life — a turn he says cleared his conscience.
Mr Navakasuasua, who now resides and works in Perth, Western Australia as an underground minder under the name Maciu Naqari, was one of the key players in the planning and execution of the 2000 takeover on Mahendra Chaudhry's Labour Coalition government.
He later served a prison term of three years on the then Nukulau Island Prison for coup-related convictions.
In media interviews conducted on various occasions towards the end of 2005, five years after the May takeover, Mr Navakasuasua went public with what he knew of the takeover and those who planned it.
He went public with the identities of those he claimed were financial backers of the coup, some of whom he also claimed were failed politicians and failed businessmen.
In those interviews, he also revealed of how as a man who worked with explosives, coup-backers tried to hire him to blow up the Nadi International Airport while the Fiji Labour Party leader, then the Prime Minister, was passing through.
When he went public, he began to receive threats from supporters here in the country, one of which was to kill him if he ever returned to his motherland.
"This (public revelation) was done in good faith because of my religious conviction. I wanted to clear my conscience but unfortunately, my confession was the turning point of me being hated by fellow countrymen and those who were with me from day one.
"I spoke the truth and that cannot change the tide. I will stand by that truth. One thing must be clearly understood here — we are not in enmity with the military anymore. It's between me and all the opportunists and all the coup backers who will come out to ensure that I be harmed or killed in every way possible.
"The thought of sending me to Fiji will certainly be giving me back into the hands of my enemies. Unfortunately, this has been overlooked by the Australian immigration department."
Mr Navakasuasua not only came out with his claims, but he also publicly sought forgiveness in 2006 for the misery and suffering people in this country had to endure because of his actions through the 2000 coup.
Today, he fears for his life. A notice by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Australia informed him that the responsible minister would not be intervening in his case and therefore, turned down his application for a protection visa in the country he had worked in and had called home for the past nine years.
The letter dated December 14, 2012 and signed by Viviana Barrio, manager Ministerial Intervention Victoria, stated: "While section 417 of the Act provides the Minister with the power to substitute a decision of the Refugee Review Tribunal with a more favourable decision, it is a discretionary, non-compellable power. This means the Minister is not obliged to intervene in your case.
"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," Ms Barrio said in the letter.
It also stated that Mr Navakasuasua was most recently refused a protection visa on February 17 in 2011.
"Under section 48B of the Act, the Minister may allow a person to make a further application for a protection visa if he thinks it is in the public interest. In view of the nature of your case, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship initiated an assessment of your case under section 48B of the Act, including an assessment of your claims in relation to Complementary Protection provisions," the letter stated.
It added: "Your case has been assessed against the Ministerial Guidelines: Section 48A Cases and Requests for Section 48B Ministerial Intervention. Your case did not meet the guidelines and was not sent to the minister for consideration under section 48B. A copy of this assessment was provided to the minister when he considered your case."
The letter stated that Mr Navakasuasua's request had now been finalised.
"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," it stated.
That letter came as a shock to Mr Navakasuasua who says he is a genuine applicant for protection in that country.
In an interview with this newspaper this week, he said he had continuously received threats from the day his interview was published, particularly after he made those revelations.
"What they're saying to me is my life is not at risk when I return to Fiji, that I won't be harmed. And in this letter, the Immigration Department said I didn't meet the criteria in the Act that if I returned to Fiji, I won't be harmed or persecuted," Mr Navakasuasua said.
"I'm a genuine applicant for the protection visa. 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.
"And the Department of Immigration without proper investigation granted them their protection visa," he added.
Mr Navakasuasua claims that he received threats from coup backers saying they have a gang ready "to slit my throat if I ever return home".
When he received the letter, he said he raised the issues with the immigration department there, and added that after all those years of contributing immensely to the Australian economy, this was what he got in return.
Mr Navakasuasua said he would appeal the department's decision.
"I will not leave any stone unturned. I'll exhaust all the avenues available while I'm still in Australia. I have engaged Rothstein Lawyers, a top Perth migration agent to take up my case and they are working on the case right now," he said.
"I guess I have to wait for the outcome of what my lawyer is doing now," Mr Navakasuasua said.
"I have been barred to apply on any other ground onshore and he (lawyer) is requesting the Minister to lift the bar that has been placed on me.
"If that gets through, I will make a fresh protection visa application again."
Asked where he would go, Mr Navakasuasua responded: "That's a very good question. Where else in the world am I going to go? I cannot go back home for my life will be in danger if I do so and my safety is not guaranteed.
"I remembered what the immigration department officials told me the other day — to consider going to another country than going to Fiji. I told them how on earth I can go to another country when I'm seeking refuge here. I don't even know anyone and even if I go to another country, I'll still need someone to sponsor me to enter another country. It's just purely passing the buck," he said.
Fiji's Minister for Immigration Joketani Cokanasiga said the question of protection was a sovereign issue of the State.
He said he hoped Mr Navakasuasua's Fiji passport was still valid as he would be required to return to the country now that the Australian immigration department had revoked his application for a protection visa.
"For his safety here is something we have to work on. We're not sure whether he's genuine," Mr Cokanasiga said in an interview.
He said this was the first time they had had to come across such a case.
"If he is genuine, the government will see how he can be protected. We still have a job to protect our people," Mr Cokanasiga said, and urged Mr Navakasuasua to visit the Fiji Embassy in Australia to help him.
Mr Navakasuasua said he had yet to do that (to visit the Fiji mission) because he needed to spend as much time possible with his lawyer who was working on his appeals case.
He said time was valuable to him right now and he needed to work with his lawyer so he could stay legally in Australia.