By FOLKEN WAKO
MARK Basa sits in a detention centre thousands of kilometres from home thinking of what could have been.
He has forgotten what “normal life” feels like after spending 12 and a half years in an Australian prison. He was jailed in 2005 by an Australian court for killing Australian Air Force technician Zane MacCready. He was 17 then.
Mark, 29, is from Kabwum in Morobe. He left for Australia in 2004 to live with his father Richard Basa, a Lutheran church pastor who had gone for studies.
In January last year, the Australian Home Affairs Department took steps to deport Mark after he was granted parole. Today he is still at the Immigration Detention Centre in Villawood, Sydney. The Australian authorities are yet to be convinced that he will be safe is released back into the community.
Mark argues that the decision by the New South Wales State Parole Authority to grant him parole in itself is a reflection of their confidence in him, and a testament of his good behaviour and trustworthiness.
“An indication that I would be a threat as I had not been tested by being out in the community is a total lie. I had been working in the community for nine months with reference letters from my employer and other letters of support from the community itself with hundreds signing petitions for me to remain in Australia.”
Mark celebrated his 29th birthday inside the detention centre.
The PNG immigration authorities are steering clear of his case saying it is in Australia’s jurisdiction.
“Despite years of good behaviour and actively engaging in rehabilitative and educational programmes, I have to fight another legal battle to have some kind of normality and freedom back in my life.”
The incident on that night of July 7, 2005, has unfolded a set of unfortunate events which has continued to impact the lives of his family and the MacCready’s.
“It’s now 14 years and we are still trying to find answers and reasons as to how one family tragically lost their son and another facing the same fate through two very different circumstances, but one which has torn two families apart nonetheless.”
He sees himself now tangled up in the judicial process, a victim of legislative amendments and policies.
“An event that occurred over 14 years ago continues to haunt me, time and time again stirring up a murky and muddy past filled with questions rather than answers.”
His biggest hope is that someday, he will be able to meet Zane’s family.
“I hope that someday, I will be able to meet Zane’s mother (Ros Lowe) and sister (Mahalia Blaby) face to face so that I can begin to start the healing process. They too may finally find some sense of closure to an unfortunate and tragic incident which led to a loss of a loved one.”
“ An event that occurred over 14 years ago continues to haunt me, time and time again stirring up a murky and muddy past filled with questions rather than answers.”
The two are convinced that, after watching the CCTV footage, others might have been involved in Zane’s death.
Mark has lodged an appeal with the Australian Federal Court to review the decision by the Home Affairs department not to grant him a protection visa. He is waiting for that.
Mark hopes that one day he will be able to start a family of his own and become a useful and productive member of the community.
Today he becomes more depressed and desperate as each day passes.
He hopes that something will happen to allow him back his freedom and to experience a normal life again. Hope is what keeps him going right now.