Australian immigration officials blamed for elderly woman's death

25 August 2005

Australian Immigration officials are facing possible legal action after being accused of contributing to the death of an elderly Syrian woman seeking to extend a visitor visa due to ill health. While visiting Australia from Lebanon, she had become increasingly frail and suffered from anaemia, diabetes and arthritis. Her family had hoped to extend her visitor visa, saying that she was too frail to travel home.

Seventy-nine year old Azize Agha suffered a heart attack on 10 Aug., two days after immigration officials asked her to complete a medical examination at a doctor half an hour away from her home. A Melbourne doctor had already written to the Immigration Department, saying the woman was too ill to travel. He wrote on her death certificate that the cause of her heart attack was harassment by the department of immigration.

Ms Agha's family said immigration officials had failed to take the doctor's warnings seriously.

Labor and the Australian Democrats called for Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone's sacking over the issue.

But Ms Agha's grandson Mohamed Najjarine (Mohamed Najjarine) said the family would consider legal action.