The Australian: DEPOSED Fijian prime minister Laisenia Qarase unsuccessfully pleaded with Australian authorities to grant asylum to Josefa Rauluni.
Mr Railuni died after throwing himself from the roof of a Sydney detention centre.
The Australian has obtained a letter Mr Qarase sent to the Refugee Review Tribunal last November that stated Mr Rauluni, who died on Monday just hours before he was due to be deported, faced danger if he returned to Fiji.
Mr Qarase - prime minister of Fiji from 2000 to 2006 and ousted by military leader Frank Bainimarama - said Mr Rauluni had been active in the Fijian movement for democracy. Returning to the country while it was under military rule could have been deadly.
The letter emerged as Mr Rauluni's sister-in-law expressed anger that his body had been left lying on the ground at the detention centre after his death.
The family spoke out as a protest sparked by his death ended last night when 11 asylum-seekers climbed down from a 30-hour sit-in on the centre's roof.
The move ended hours of intense drama as some of the detainees threatened to throw themselves off and had to be restrained by their fellow protesters, and blood spilled on the roof after some protesters cut themselves.
The officials from the UN High Commission for Refugees arrived at the centre about 6pm and persuaded the men to come down from the roof to discuss their plight.
In his letter, Mr Qarase said he could confirm that Mr Rauluni had been "very active in meetings and rallies held in Griffith and Sydney organised by the movement for democracy based in Sydney".
"Under the current circumstances in Fiji, Mr Rauluni runs the risk of been taken in by the regime if he returns to Fiji," he wrote. "In addition, Mr Rauluni has been a member of the SDL party. This membership will further increase the risk to his personal safety and security if he returns to Fiji."
Mr Rauluni, a 36-year-old father of one, came from Levuka in the eastern division of Fiji, the same area from which Mr Qarase originally comes.
Mr Rauluni's sister-in-law, Fiona Rauluni, accused the Immigration Department of failing to meet its duty of care for Mr Rauluni while he was detained at the Villawood centre.
Mrs Rauluni said the guards at the facility were told of Mr Rauluni's distress at being deported and "knew he was not himself".
She said his body was left lying in full sight of other detainees for five hours, a move that sparked the protest from the 11 other detainees that ended last night.
Mr Rauluni's brother, David, who migrated to Australia 15 years ago, said his brother had travelled to the country with eight other family members - including his three brothers Meli, 45, Malakai, 42, and Koroi, 51 - for a christening two years ago.
He said the entire family applied for protection visas shortly after arriving in Australia, fearing they would be persecuted by the military regime if they returned to Fiji.
The brothers had their asylum applications denied in March - while living in Griffith in southern NSW - but were permitted to stay in the country due to fortnightly applications for bridging visas. The family said last night Mr Rauluni was detained by immigration authorities on August 17 because he had been working night shift at a local processing plant and missed a deadline to extend his bridging visa.
Mr Rauluni's nephew, Eddie, was also detained by immigration authorities and taken to Villawood on August 17.
Pastor Kanito Roko from the Mount Zion Christian Fellowship, who conducted a service inside Villawood for Mr Rauluni yesterday, said his greatest fear now was for Eddie, who was due to be deported with his uncle on Monday and now remains in detention.
"I was able to counsel him today," Mr Roko said. "But from yesterday afternoon, he never ate food, never slept all night - he has just been crying. He is my worry now."
David Rauluni said he wanted to apply for permanent residency for his brothers Meli, Malakai and Koroi.
Mr Rauluni said he was so desperate to prevent Josefa being deported to Fiji he paid $2000 to a man who told him he would be able to "get people in high places" to issue him a visa.
The Sydney-based president of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement, Usaia Peter Waqatairewa, said Josefa Rauluni had admitted to him on Sunday that David had been scammed by a Fijian man who had come to Villawood claiming he could help him avoid deportation.
An Immigration Department spokesman said yesterday: "We are dealing with this in a careful and sensitive matter. We would encourage all friends, family and associates to show dignity and respect in their public commentary about this tragedy."