News State Victoria News Asylum seeker dies from burns
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Asylum seeker dies from burns

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A Sri Lankan man on a bridging visa in the Geelong community has died after suffering burns to 90 per cent of his body after dowsing himself in petrol.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference the man did not have any next of kin in Australia and his identity could not yet be released.

Mr Morrison would not comment on whether it was a self-harm attempt.

However, a post on the Facebook page of the Combined Refugee Action Group said the man ended his own life.

Facebook: Combined Refugee Action Centre
Leo Seemanpillai. Facebook: Combined Refugee Action Centre

“Tragically one of our Tamil asylum seeker friends in Geelong has ended his life in moments of great despair. The last few hours of his life he was surrounded by loving friends and a caring hospital staff,” said the post.

“We wish to remember this young man’s life with all the positive things his life represented and all the sorrows he experienced.”

Fairfax Media reported that the man, named as Leo Seemanpillai, 29, arrived in Darwin by boat in January 2013.

Ambulance workers reportedly arrived in the Geelong suburb of Newtown to find the man had been dowsed in petrol which had been ignited. Victoria Police said the injuries were believed to have been “self-inflicted”.

Scott Morrison confirmed that “a man who was on a bridging visa in the community passed away after suffering very serious injuries”.

“I’m advised by my department a man believed to be an illegal maritime suffered serious burns in an incident yesterday morning and was taken to the Alfred Hospital,” Mr Morrison said.

The Immigration Minister said his department is working with the hospital and the local community to make funeral arrangements.

“I and the department extend our deepest sympathies to his family and to his friends,” Mr Morrison said.

“There are many matters about this incident which are still not known at this time and when those details are appropriate to be released, then that will be done at the convenient and appropriate time.

“The formal police process of [identifying] the man has not been completed and family have not yet been formally notified at the time of this press conference … but those who were close to him in the community would be aware of this incident and are receiving the necessary support.”

The man was issued with a bridging visa in May and again in July, Mr Morrison said.

It is understood he arrived in Darwin under the previous government’s legislation and was able to make protection visa applications directly.

—with AAP

For help or information on depression and suicide:

• Lifeline: 13 11 14
• Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
• MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
• Beyondblue support service: 1300 22 4636
• Lifeline: 13 11 14
• SANE Australia Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263)