SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian court on Monday ordered bail revoked for the partner of a self-styled Sheikh who last week stormed a Sydney cafe at gunpoint, sparking a 16-hour hostage crisis that left three people dead, including the gunman.
Amirah Droudis, on bail after being charged with the murder of hostage-taker Man Haron Monis’ wife, was ordered by a Sydney court returned to jail to await trial.
Monis, who had been charged as an accessory to the murder, had also been free on bail.
The perceived failure of the justice system to prevent a convicted felon who was well known to authorities from seizing a cafe in the city’s financial district in broad daylight has sparked calls for a tightening of the bail system.
Last year, Droudis was freed on bail after being charged in connection with the stabbing murder of Monis’ ex-wife, who was set alight in a Sydney apartment block.
Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson cited her prior convictions, the particularly heinous nature of the alleged offense and the slight possibility she might skip bail as factors in deciding to remand her in custody until trial.
“I find there is an unacceptable risk that cannot be properly mitigated by a further extension of bail,” Henson said following the hearing at a Sydney court.
Droudis’ lawyers argued that the case was “frivolous” and their client was effectively being swept up in the public anger surrounding the café siege, in which she did not take part.
Droudis, who was mobbed by reporters and television crews when she arrived at the court, just blocks away from the café, sat impassively for much of the hearing.
She will next appear in court in February.
Last week, the commissioner of police in New South Wales state, Andrew Scipione, said he was concerned that Monis had been granted bail on earlier charges, leaving him free in the community, sparking calls for a wider review of the bail system.
Henson took the unusual step of admonishing a courtroom packed with journalists not to speculate on Droudis’ guilt, reminding them that the decision to revoke her bail had no bearing on her guilt or innocence.
“Suspicion, wild accusation, deficiencies in evidence cannot be translated into accepted truths simply because an agency of prosecution says so or a media who wants something to be true says it must be without due process,” he said.
Editing by Robert Birsel