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Court Orders Partner of Sydney Hostage-taker Jailed


FILE - Members of the public stand behind a note that can be seen amongst floral tributes that have been placed near the cafe where hostages were held for over 16 hours, in central Sydney, Dec. 16, 2014.

An Australian court has revoked the bail of the partner of a deranged Iranian-born man who last week carried out a deadly attack on a cafe in Sydney.

Amirah Droudis was the partner of Man Haron Monis, who was shot dead last week when a swarm of heavily armed police stormed the cafe where he held 17 hostages for more than 16 hours.

Two hostages also died in the incident.

Droudis had been free on bail after she was charged with the murder of Monis' ex-wife. The Associated Press reported Monis' wife was stabbed and set afire.

Bail system criticized

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.

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 cafe 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 cafe, sat impassively for much of the hearing.

She will next appear in court in February.

Review of system

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.

Monis was charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. He also faced more than 40 sexual assault and indecency charges.

He fled to Australia two decades ago claiming persecution in Iran. Monis has been referred to in the media as a "self-styled" Islamic cleric, in reference to the non-Islamic practices in which he claimed expertise, include astrology, numerology and black magic.

Some material for this report came from Reuters.