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 first inquiry into the deadly Sydney cafe siege has been released on February 20, with its findings to shape PM Tony Abbott’s address on national security this week.
Australia’s security hotline received 18 calls about self-styled cleric Man Haron Monis just days before his deadly attack on Lindt Café in Sydney – but none suggested an imminent attack, the report says.
The report says the calls last December related to offensive Facebook posts by Man Haron Monis, who later took hostages at the Lindt cafe.
Two hostages were killed along with the gunman after a stand-off with police.
“Plainly, the system has let us down,” PM Tony Abbott said.
He said he would consider changes to the legal and immigration systems in response to the siege.
“Plainly, this monster should not have been in our community.”
Tony Abbott said Australia would have to reconsider the line between individual freedoms and the safety of the community may have to be “redrawn”.
His comments came as he released the 90-page report conducted by officials from the federal government and the government of New South Wales.
The document says that the 18 calls to the national security hotline were made between December 9 and 12 – three days before the cafe siege.
It says Australia’s security service and police considered that the Facebook posts by Man Haron Monis “contained no indications of an imminent threat”.
“On the basis of the information available at the time, he fell well outside the threshold to be included in the 400 highest priority counter-terrorism investigations,” the review says.
It adds that Iranian-born Man Haron Monis – who first came to Australia as a refugee in 1996 and was granted citizenship in 2004 – was “the subject of many law enforcement and security investigations” in the country before the attack.
He had a history of religiously-motivated activism and called himself a cleric, but officials have said there is as yet no evidence his actions were linked to international Islamist militant networks.
Man Haron Monis was on bail after being charged with dozens of assault charges and with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, who was stabbed to death and set alight.
An inquest into the Sydney cafe siege has heard that hostage Katrina Dawson was killed by fragments from a police bullet or bullets.
Another hostage, cafe manager Tori Johnson, was killed by a bullet to the head from gunman Man Haron Monis.
The café manager’s death prompted police to storm the Lindt Chocolate Cafe and kill Man Haron Monis.
The inquest aims to establish whether deaths were avoidable and if it should have been treated as a terrorist event.
Eighteen people were taken hostage.
The stand-off at the cafe in Martin Place in Sydney’s business district on December 15 led to a massive police operation and the shutdown of a large part of the city centre.
At the opening of the coroner’s inquest in Sydney, Jeremy Gormly, the lawyer assisting the state coroner, said Katrina Dawson was “struck by six fragments of a police bullet or bullets which ricocheted from hard surfaces into her body”.
“I will not detail the damage done to Ms Dawson other than to say that one fragment struck a major blood vessel. She lost consciousness quickly and died shortly afterwards.”
Australian media reports earlier this month had indicated that Katrina Dawson, a 38-year-old barrister and mother of three young children, had died after being hit in the heart and shoulder by fragments from a police bullet.
The inquest heard that Man Haron Monis entered the cafe on the morning of December 15 with a sawn-off shotgun hidden in a plastic bag.
He ordered chocolate cake and tea, and asked to speak to the manager, Tori Johnson. After ordering Tori Johnson to lock the cafe, he announced: “This is an attack. I have a bomb.”
Later that morning, Man Haron Monis ordered Tori Johnson to phone Australia’s emergency number.
He ordered the cafe manager to say that Australia was under attack from Islamic State militants and that Man Haron Monis had planted radio-controlled bombs around the busy Sydney tourist precinct, Circular Quay, and Martin Place – none of which was true.
A number of hostages managed to escape as the siege went on, then at 02:00 local time on December 16, special police stormed the cafe after a police marksman saw Man Haron Monis shoot the kneeling Tori Johnson in the back of the head.
Earlier unconfirmed reports in the Australian press had said Tori Johnson was shot while trying to disarm Man Haron Monis, but this was not mentioned by the coronial report.
The inquest heard that Man Haron Monis was killed instantly when police entered the cafe. At least two police bullets hit him in the head and 11 other bullets or fragments struck his body. The police used stun grenades, known as flash bangs, as they went in.
Man Haron Monis fired five shots during the entire siege, the inquest heard.
The first shot was directed at hostages as they fled the scene. He then shot Tori Johnson. The other bullets were fired when police stormed the cafe. Man Haron Monis was later found to have had 21 more cartridges in his pocket.
Man Haron Monis, who came to Australia as a refugee from Iran, had a history of religious activism and was on bail at the time of the siege for dozens of s**ual assault charges and for being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.
He claimed to be a cleric and asked his hostages to display an Islamic flag during the siege. However, questions remain about whether he had any links to international militant networks.
His partner Amirah Droudis, who is also facing murder charges over his ex-wife, will be represented at the inquest.
“Rarely have such horrifying events unfolded so publicly,” New South Wales coroner Michael Barnes told the court.
“These events have precipitated an outpouring of emotion, anguish, anger, resentment and despair.”
Six of Tori Johnson’s family members attended the session. None of Katrina Dawson’s family were present.
The inquest has now adjourned. A date has yet to be announced for the next hearing. All the surviving hostages are expected to give evidence.
Meanwhile other investigations into the siege are continuing, including a joint federal and New South Wales state government review of why Man Haron Monis was given asylum and eventually citizenship in Australia and why he was granted bail in 2013.
Sydney cafe hostage-taker Man Haron Monis was not on Australia’s terror watch list.
Australia’s PM Tony Abbott said the government would examine why Man Haron Monis had been on bail.
The prime minister paid tribute to the two hostages who died in Monday’s siege, describing them as “good people”.
The two hostages and Man Haron Monis died as police commandos stormed the cafe in Martin Place early on Tuesday morning, ending the 16-hour siege.
An investigation has been launched into the police operation.
Police are also investigating the motives of Man Haron Monis – an Iranian refugee who was a known extremist and faced multiple criminal charges – and how he got a gun.
At a press conference, PM Tony Abbott said: “How can someone who has had such a long and chequered history not be on the appropriate watch lists and how can someone like that be entirely at large in the community.
“These are questions that we need to look at carefully and calmly and methodically.”
However, Tony Abbott added that it was “possible” that the siege would have taken place even if Man Haron Monis had been on a watch list.
“The level of control that would be necessary to prevent people from going about their daily life would be very, very high indeed,” he said.
The victims have been named as cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34 and Sydney lawyer Katrina Dawson, 38.
Tony Abbott described the victims as “decent, good people” who were “caught up in the sick fantasy of a deeply disturbed individual”.
In Martin Place, people have been arriving to sign condolence books and leave flowers in their memory.
Central Sydney was put in lockdown on Monday morning as the gunman entered the Lindt Chocolat Cafe and seized 17 hostages.
Five hostages managed to sprint to safety on Monday afternoon. Several more escaped in the early hours of Tuesday, as commandos stormed the cafe.
At a press conference on Tuesday, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn would not say whether Man Haron Monis shot the two hostages himself.
Nor would she confirm media reports that cafe manager Tori Johnson was shot when he grappled with Man Haron Monis. But she said that “every single one of those hostages acted courageously”.
Asked if police stormed the cafe because of something they saw or heard from within the cafe, Commissioner Catherine Burn would say only that “shots were heard and an emergency action plan was activated”.
She said it was “extremely important that I do not say a great deal about the events of the past 24 hours” while the investigation is under way.
The investigation – standard practice when police are involved in a fatal incident – is being led by New South Wales Homicide Squad detectives on behalf of the state’s coroner, and could take weeks or months.
A policeman who was hit in the face by shotgun pellets during the raid has since been discharged from hospital. Three others who suffered gunshot wounds are in a stable condition, NSW Police said in a statement.
Two of the hostages who were pregnant were uninjured but taken to hospital for “health and welfare purposes”, NSW police said.
An exclusion zone remains in place for several blocks around the crime scene, along with some road closures. Police have promised more police on the streets over the holiday period.
During the siege Man Haron Monis apparently forced hostages to hold up a flag showing the Islamic creed in the cafe window.
A church service was held at St Mary Cathedral, near the Lindt Cafe, on December 16 to mourn the victims.
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.
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