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June 30, 2017

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Sri Lankan asylum-seeker self-immolates in OZ

SYDNEY--A Sri Lankan asylum-seeker has died after setting himself on fire while awaiting a visa decision in Australia, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Monday, with a Tamil group claiming he was "living in great fear."

Leorsin Seemanpillai, 29, who was living in Geelong, outside Melbourne, after being granted a temporary visa a year ago, suffered burns to 90 percent of his body after the incident on Saturday morning.

He died on Sunday in a Melbourne hospital.

"This man sadly died as a result of a very serious set of injuries that were self-inflicted," Morrison said.

"And I don't think we are in any position, and I frankly don't think anyone else is any position, to draw any conclusions about what is a person's mind in that situation."

Aran Mylvaganam of the Tamil Refugee Council, who was at Seemanpillai's bedside in hospital and knew him for a year, said he was "living in great fear" of being sent back to Sri Lanka, where he believed his life would be in danger.

"I had numerous conversations where he would repeatedly raise concerns about being deported back to Sri Lanka," Mylvaganam told AFP.

He added that Seemanpillai's fears were fuelled by seeing his friends taken from communities where they were placed in detention centers to be deported.

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