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Coup snitch under lock

Ifereimi Nadore In Melbourne, Australia
Thursday, April 03, 2014

WHAT was supposed to be a routine bridging visa evaluation (BVE) check for 2000 coup whistleblower Maciu Naqari Navakasuasua ended up in him being detained at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre for deportation.

And he has called on Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to conduct an investigation into how he was "tricked" to delay his evaluation for a day that got him detained as an overstayer.

For the past 10 years, Mr Navakasuasua had been living in Australia under Bridging Visa E, which allowed him to stay and work legally following his release from Nukulau Prison in 2003.

As a Bridging Visa E holder, Mr Navakasuasua was to report to the Immigration Department after every three months.

Mr Navakasuasua — an explosives expert who joined a nationalist movement and was jailed for three years for his involvement in the 2000 coup that removed the Mahendra Chaudhry-led Fiji Labour Party government from power — claimed in 2005 that George Speight was only a frontman and that some businessmen were involved in the plot.

He fears for his life if he returns to Fiji, saying he had been warned.

He said he was supposed to report to the immigration office in Melbourne on March 5 but received a text message from an immigration officer on March 4 advising him to report on March 6.

He said after receiving the message, he contacted the officer at the Immigration Office who confirmed the change of dates.

When reporting to him on March 6, he was advised that he had overstayed for a day and would be detained automatically.

"I've been technically tricked but my hands are tied. I just have to follow the law," a disappointed Mr Navakasuasua said this week.

"I clearly told my case officer that had he told me that I would be arrested upon my arrival, I would still have the courtesy to report to the Immigration Office, something I had been doing faithfully for the past 10 years."

Mr Navakasuasua, who uses the name Maciu Naqari while in Australia, said the officer told him that he would cancel his Bridging Visa E based on character grounds under Section 501 of the Immigration Act.

"I've been living legally in Australia and contributed so much to the economy. Now I've been considered a criminal," he said.

He said he would seek all legal avenues to stay in Australia.

Upon arriving in Australia, Mr Navakasuasua confessed and apologised in the media about his involvement in the 2000 coup that was led by Speight and extremist nationalists.

He named a number of high-profile people, including businessmen, who he claimed to have had a hand in plotting the overthrow of the FLP government.

He maintained that he would be killed if he returned to Fiji.

"I would rather kill myself here than return home," he said.

Meanwhile, asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat or plane without visas will no longer have access to free immigration services.

The new measure, announced this week, will affect a number of Fijians who had been using this service

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said from Monday the government would cease funding the services, which he likened to "taxpayer-funded legal advice".

The move, announced during the 2013 election campaign, is expected to save the Australian Government $100million over four years. The announcement was condemned at the time, with refugee advocates arguing that many asylum seekers did not have the money to pay for professional advice, while the Greens said the move could put asylum seekers in jeopardy if they could not appeal.

Mr Morrison said services would still be available, but the government would no longer be paying for them.


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