The Age
Kosovars' last plea to courts


Friday 7 April 2000

Lawyers for about 100 Kosovar refugees will mount a last-minute bid in the High Court today to stop their deportation tomorrow.

A Melbourne lawyer, Mr Basil Nuredini, said last night that he would seek an interim injunction to prevent the Federal Government from carrying out the deportations.

"We are fearful that if these people are returned ... some of them will not survive. They are all in the immediate danger of losing either their lives or their liberties," he said.

The injunction would apply to about 100 refugees considered to have the most compelling cases for remaining in Australia. In total, 259 refugees have been ordered to leave.

Mr Nuredini said that while there was relative peace in Kosovo, about 90 per cent of today's applicants were ethnic Kosovars from Serbia.

While he expected that they would initially be sent to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, they would eventually have to make their way back to Serbia.

"That would be tantamount to returning them to Belgrade. I wouldn't like to be an Albanian in Serbia," he said.

If they stayed in Kosovo, he said, "they will be competing for scarce resources with all of the other Kosovars and may attract animosity".

If the bid fails, the refugees are scheduled to leave Australia tomorrow. A victory would mean each individual application would have to be heard later by the High Court.

The last family of Kosovar refugees in Tasmania is refusing to leave, and they have the support of the Premier, Mr Jim Bacon.

Mr Bacon said that Mr Vesel Sopjani, his wife, Nexhmij, and their two teenage sons had settled into work and school and were no burden on taxpayers.

"They are very welcome to stay," Mr Bacon said. "We are making those views known to the federal minister in the hope that ... there may be a change of heart."

Original article