Former Coast man fears imprisonment in Sri Lanka

MISSING THEIR MAN: Thushari Ponnamperuma and her children, Jazz and Jayden Jacenko.
MISSING THEIR MAN: Thushari Ponnamperuma and her children, Jazz and Jayden Jacenko. John Mccutcheon

A FORMER Sunshine Coast man trapped in a legal minefield in Sri Lanka has sent desperate pleas for help to political leaders on both sides of the Indian Ocean.

But Dusan Jacenko fears his case is hopeless and he could this week end up in a Sri Lankan prison.

Mr Jacenko's battle with the Sri Lankan legal system was recently highlighted by the Daily and has since been picked up by Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror newspaper.

He has now sent impassioned pleas for help to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

An ongoing dispute over maintenance payments to his ex-wife has left Mr Jacenko virtually a prisoner in the island nation he has called home since 1999 while his young family waits for him in Landsborough.

The dispute has become so bogged down in that country's legal system, not even the Australian High Commission appears to be able to help.

Meanwhile, his partner Thushari and their two young children are living with Dusan's son and his family, hoping for a miracle.

"With no income, I am expected to maintain my wife even though she is a fit, healthy woman who has worked in the garment industry and can legally work in Sri Lanka," he wrote.

"She owns a property (that I paid for) valued at over Rs 15 million but now the magistrate refuses to hear my case regarding change of circumstances.

"Mr President, could you please tell me how this situation can be resolved?

"I have always tried to meet the requirements of the court but the situation is still no closer to resolution after nine long years.

"It is my keen desire to fulfil all requirements under Sri Lanka law and move forward with my life in Australia.

"Every moment I spend in this country, I am in fear for my well-being and sink into a financial black hole that will only grow bigger whilst I am unable to earn an income. I write this letter in the hope you can expedite a speedy resolution for the matters before the courts so I can meet my obligations and be reunited with my family in Australia."

Mr Jacenko sent a copy of the letter to Foreign Minister Bishop, with a cover note explaining he feared he would be sent to jail when he re-appeared in court today.

"As of 11th April, I am two months behind in payments," he said. "My friend, who was loaning me the money to pay, has refused to continue supporting this action and I have been advised that if I do not pay on the 27th April, there is a chance I will be remanded into custody.

"I simply want a straight forward answer - can I expect any support or not?"

Mr Jacenko told the Daily he had not heard from Ms Bishop or the Sir Lankan President, while the High Commission in Colombo appeared to be stalled.

"I am getting a little nervous, especially with the thought that I could possibly be remanded into custody," he said. "Sri Lankan prisons, I have been told, are not the nicest place to be.

"I spoke to my lawyer to see if there was any news of a meeting being organised to discuss a settlement (but) nothing had eventuated there either. Since the story has broken, nothing has really changed. It has helped me think that there is some hope. So all I can do is wait until April 27th and just hope for the best."

Ms Bishop's office failed to respond to questions on Mr Jacenko's situation. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has already said that while it has organised consulate help for him, it cannot intefere in the legal matters of another country.

Topics:  julie bishop sri lanka

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