Pubdate: Tue, 20 Dec 2005
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2005sThe Australian


An Australian lawyer has launched action in the Federal Court to
bring home two heroin addicts now living in destitute circumstances
overseas after being deported on character grounds.

Robert Jovicic attracted headlines last month after he claimed he was
ready to die on the steps of the Australian embassy in Serbia to which
he was deported on character grounds although he had never lived there.

Mr Jovicic, whose parents were Serbian, arrived Australia in 1968 from
France where he was born, and spent 36 of his 38 years living in
Australia, but never acquired citizenship.

He was deported in June last year by then immigration minister Philip
Ruddock because of a criminal record of more than 150 convictions
mostly for theft and burglaries to support his heroin habit.

Another non-citizen, Ali Tastan was deported to Turkey in January 2003
after serving seven years for malicious wounding, arson and
drug-related offences.

A paranoid schizophrenic, aggravated by a heroin addiction, Mr Tastan
is now homeless and wandering the streets of Ankara.

Representing the two men in the Federal Court today, lawyer Michaela
Byers hopes to have Mr Jovicic, who is now living in a Belgrade hotel
paid for by the Australian Embassy, returned home before Christmas.

"This time of year is not a good time for quick action," she said on
ABC radio.

"We're hoping to get it (a decision) by the end of the

Ms Byers said she received correspondence from the Government about a
week ago saying they were "only a matter of weeks" away from making a
decision in regard to Mr Jovicic's case.

She said the decision to deport Mr Tastan came despite a tribunal
ruling against it.

"We made an application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 1997
for the deportation order to be set aside and in 1999 the tribunal set
aside the deportation order," Ms Byers said.

"A member of the tribunal looked at Ali's medical history and in
particular his mental health problems, which were diagnosed as
paranoid schizophrenia complicated by drug abuse as he was a heroin

The tribunal member believed Ali did not have the capacity to make any
decisions and questioned how he was convicted in the past.

Ms Byers said if Mr Tastan had been allowed to remain with his family
and support structure his rehabilitation chances would have been much

In the meantime, he has nowhere to live and is being helped by his
elderly parents who are saving $30 a fortnight from their pensions to
send to him, Ms Byers said.
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