New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller conceded police “should have gone in earlier”, in an interview released after the coroner’s findings.
Michael Barnes ruled police were ill-equipped to handle the siege, relied too heavily on a sole psychiatrist, and employed a “contain and negotiate” strategy which failed.
He also savaged an earlier decision allowing bail to Man Haron Monis, who had been charged with 43 assaults and being an accessory to his ex-wife’s murder.
Although Michael Barnes stressed the deaths were “not the fault of police”, he found failings with their actions, including:
a 10-minute delay between Man Haron Monis firing his first shot and police entering the building, allowing Tori Johnson to be “executed in the meantime”
relying on “erroneous” advice from a psychiatrist who did not have sufficient terrorism expertise
underestimating the gunman’s preparedness to kill or injure hostages
allowing eight calls by hostages to police to go unanswered
having some confusion around the lines of command.
Michael Barnes said a prosecutor had given inadequate information when Man Haron Monis faced an earlier bail hearing over his ex-wife’s murder.
“That [prosecution] solicitor erroneously advised the court that Monis did not have to show exceptional circumstances before he could be granted bail on the murder charges,” Michael Barnes said.
Man Haron Monis, an Iranian-born Australian citizen, had pledged allegiance to ISIS not long before the siege.
“It remains unclear whether Monis was motivated by Islamic State to prosecute its bloodthirsty agenda, or whether he used the organization’s reputation to bolster his impact in pursuit of his own ends,” Michael Barnes said.
On May 22, the families of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson criticized a police command tactic to intervene only if the gunman killed or injured someone.
“I’ll never be able understand how you can make a calculated decision that you wait for someone to die,” Tori Johnson’s mother, Rosie Connellan, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC).
In an ABC interview released on May 24, the police chief said it had been “wrong” to wait 10 minutes after Man Haron Monis first fired his shotgun.
After the findings, Tori Johnson’s partner, Thomas Zinn, said he still had respect for police despite the “failures of various authorities”.
“The pain deep in our hearts from losing Tori is as strong now as it was in December 2014,” he said.
“Everybody who knew Tori would agree that we lost a guardian angel that night.”
The state’s police union had criticized the inquest as a “witch hunt” that had scrutinized police officers “as if they were on trial”.
Michael Barnes acknowledged the police response carried extreme risk, and stressed his findings were specific to this incident.
His 45 recommendations included:
police reassess their “contain and negotiate” strategy in possible terror scenarios
developing a “cadre of anti-terrorist negotiators” with specialized expertise
giving officers specific guidelines on assessing imminent risk
creating a bail “mechanism” that authorities in all Australian jurisdictions could access
more effective sharing of information between government agencies.
The man who seized hostages inside Lindt cafe in Sydney, Australia, has been identified by police as Man Haron Monis.
The self-styled Muslim cleric was born in Iran and sought political asylum in Australia in 1996.
Man Haron Monis is well known to the Australian police and is currently on bail for being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.
He is also facing more than 40 s**ual and indecent assault charges.
These relate to time allegedly spent as a self-proclaimed “spiritual healer” who dealt with so-called black magic at a premises in western Sydney, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Man Haron Monis has previously been convicted of sending offensive letters to the families of deceased Australian soldiers.
There are reports that one of his demands is that an Islamic State flag be delivered to the Lindt cafe in Martin Place.
However, Man Haron Monis has no known links to jihadist groups, and commentators have suggested he is likely to be working alone.
Iranian-born Man Haron Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron and Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, wrote on his website that he used to be Shia but is no longer.
He said he “used to be a Rafidi, but not any more”, using a pejorative term that some hard-line Sunni Muslims use to refer to Shias.
Man Haron Monis denied the criminal charges against him, saying they were politically motivated. He compared the accusations of sexual assault against him to the case of Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
His website had been suspended by the time his identity was revealed in the media in connection with the siege.
Man Haron Monis’ former lawyer, Manny Conditsis, told ABC News that Monis was an isolated figure.
“His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness,” he said.
Manny Conditsis, who represented Man Haron Monis in 2013 when he was charged with being accessory to the murder of ex-wife Noleen Hayson Pal, said he thought the suspect might feel “he’s got nothing to lose”.
“Hence participating in something as desperate and outrageous as this,” he said.
Staff and customers at a Lindt cafe in Sydney, Australia, are being held hostage by a gunman.
The Lindt cafe in the city centre is surrounded by armed police. Officers have made contact with the gunman.
Five people have been seen running from the building. It is not clear how many remain inside. A black Islamic flag has been displayed at the window.
Australia’s PM Tony Abbott said it was “profoundly shocking” that people were being “held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation”.
He was speaking after chairing a meeting of the national security committee in Canberra.
Earlier Tony Abbott said: “Australia is a peaceful, open and generous society – nothing should ever change that and that’s why I would urge all Australians today to go about their business as usual.”
Senior police officers say they are on a footing “consistent with a terrorist event”.
The incident began as people were arriving for work in Martin Place on December 15. Witnesses saw a man with a bag and gun walk into the Lindt chocolate shop and cafe.
Lindt said about 10 employees and 30 customers were thought to be inside at the time. Nearby offices were evacuated and police asked people to remain indoors and away from open windows.
An enormous police operation is in place, on a scale few Sydney residents will have seen.
About six hours into the siege, three people were seen running from the building housing the cafe. Two more people followed about an hour later. It is not clear whether they escaped or were released.
New South Wales Police deputy commissioner Catherine Burn said: “Those people are now being assessed to make sure their health is okay and then police will talk to them.”
“Our approach is to resolve this peacefully. It might take a bit of time but that is our priority,” she added.
Police negotiators were in contact with the gunman, Catherine Burn confirmed. The suspect also contacted local media and reportedly issued demands.
In a statement on Facebook, Lindt said it was “deeply concerned over this serious incident”.
An armed man wearing a backpack and a bandana could be seeing walking around inside the cafe.
TV footage showed at least three people, thought to be employees and who were visibly distressed, holding up to the window a black flag bearing the declaration of Islamic faith, which reads: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.”
The flag is similar to those used by jihadist groups, but is different from the one used by Islamic State militants in the Middle East.
Martin Place is home to the state premier’s office and the headquarters of two of the nation’s largest banks. The state parliament house is also only a few streets away.
Australia – which has sent fighter jets to join the US-led coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq – raised its terror threat level in September.
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