7 Apr 2016

Detainee's family calls for answers

6:05 pm on 7 April 2016

A heart attack has been ruled out as the cause of New Zealand detainee Rob Peihopa's death, the Green Party says it has been told.

The Australian Department of Immigration said the 42-year-old was found unconscious in Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre on Monday night, and was thought to have suffered a heart attack. Other detainees have disputed that, saying he was attacked before he died.

Rob Peihopa

Rob Peihopa Photo: Facebook

Green Party MP Marama Davidson told Checkpoint with John Campbell the family had spoken to the New South Wales coroner investigating his death, and had been told Mr Peihopa had not died of a heart attack.

"It has been ruled out Robert Peihopa died from a heart attack. The coroner said he suffered a head injury and he wants to investigate further."

The family told Ms Davidson they had been told there was no security footage of the moment he died, or the moments leading up to his death.

"There is no footage, no record of his movements," Ms Davidson said.

The family felt they had been "blocked at every step" from finding out what happened.

Prime Minister John Key, his office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not been in contact with the family, Ms Davidson said.

"I wish John Key would care enough to clarify what is going on."

Mr Peihopa had four young children. He was facing deportation to New Zealand and had been in detention for nearly 10 months after serving time for dangerous driving charges.

"He had paid his time," Ms Davidson said.

"What is it going to take for John Key to care about New Zealanders in these detention centres?"

Ten percent of detainees in Australian detention centres are Kiwis.

Some had harmed themselves, faced mental illness - and now, a death, Ms Davidson said.

Yesterday, the Australian police rejected claims, by two detainees to RNZ News yesterday, that four men had been arrested.

They said investigations were continuing.

The Villawood Detention Centre in Western Sydney.

The Villawood Detention Centre in Western Sydney. Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

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