March 01, 2011 12:00:00 AM
A Fiji-born British Army soldier who faces deportation has refused to leave the United Kingdom.
Private Epeli Uluilakeba, 28, who has been the center of a reported controversial discharge from the British Army says he will not leave even if the British government rejects his re-application for permanent residency.
Radio Australia reports that Uluilakeba and his supporters are claiming that the military did not provide him with enough physical or physiological support, and are now vowing to fight to allow him to stay in the UK.
Uluilakeba is reported to have said: ‘Fijians are not treated very well in the UK.’
Uluilakeba also known to his friends and comrades as ‘Pex’ was wounded in the same blast that killed Private Phillip Hewett in 2005.
Private Hewett died in Iraq in 2005 along with two other soldiers when the wholly inadequate Snatch Land Rover in which they were patrolling was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED).
Along with Pte Hewett in that Land Rover was Pex, Pte Uluilakeba, who had been serving in the Army for just a year.
Despite being seriously injured when the blast tore their vehicle apart, he sought to give first aid to one of his dying comrades, who lay beside the corpse of their patrol leader.
Pex later emerged with severe psychological trauma. But his commanding officer described him as “a dedicated, enthusiastic and very capable field soldier, whose team spirit and loyalty is first-class”.
Within a year he was deemed fit to be sent back to Iraq, where he endured the terrifying siege of Basra Palace. When he returned once more to England he was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – for which he received no treatment.
Still deeply disturbed by his experiences, he took to heavy drinking. In the small hours of one morning, when an over-zealous corporal was shouting to evacuate the barracks for a fire-drill, Pex drew a knife on him.
Pex last year applied for permission to remain permanently in Britain. In January his application was refused by the UK Border Agency, on the grounds that he had been court martialled.
Pex was court martialled in 2009. After a short spell in Colchester prison, the Army discharged him as “no longer being of service”.
All this started with the death of Private Phillip Hewett.
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