Making Bail

The main question I would have had for Sydney siege perpetrator Man Haron Monis could I but reach him by ouija board was where he got the money to make bail and hire his lawyers.   He was up on 40 sexual sexual assault charges.   Fifty, if you believe the Washington Post.

That's not counting charges of using the mail to commit crimes.

Monis used Australia Post to send offensive or in one instance, harassing, letters to relatives of Australian Defence Force members killed in combat in Afghanistan. Another letter was sent to relatives of an Austrade official who had been killed in the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in Jakarta in 2009. Droudis assisted Monis to send the letters.

Monis was charged with 12 counts of using a postal service in a way that reasonable persons would regard as being, in all the circumstances, offensive pursuant to section 471.12 of the Criminal Code and 1 count of using a postal service in a way that reasonable persons would regard as being, in all the circumstances, harassing pursuant to section 471.12 of the Criminal Code.

The mail rap was described by Altmedia under the heading Australians assault Islamic protester, which makes him out to be the victim of a lynch mob.

One man emerged from the crowd and punched him in the head; another in a passing car threw coffee all over him; angry words flew from passersby.

Yet the controversial Sheikh Haron stood his ground for three days outside the Downing Centre Courts, his white turban, tan robes and full beard shouting ‘Islam’ at the milling crowds. Heavy chains with padlocks draped over his body spoke of oppression and imprisonment. His coffee-stained sign read “Australians don’t want war”, a belief perhaps contradicted by the naked aggression directed at the lone protester.

This is the man, under the name of Man Haron Monis, now facing seven charges arising from letters he allegedly sent to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Media reports claim the letters blamed the soldiers for the killing of innocent women and children. The Jewish News reported: “Felix Sher, the father of a Jewish soldier who was killed on duty in Afghanistan earlier this year, has received a hateful phone call and a number of letters calling his son a “pig” and a “murderer”.

The Australian and The Daily Telegraph both quote another line, allegedly from one of the letters: “I feel bad that you have lost your son but I don’t feel bad that a murderer of innocent civilians has lost his life.”

Sheikh Haron denies this interpretation: “The word ‘pig’ and other words that media have claimed are from completely different sentences, they have cut them and the incomplete quotes have been taken out of context.”

And then there's Sheik's beef as accessory to murder. "Man Haron Monis was on bail on a charge of colluding with his girlfriend to murder his ex-wife, who was stabbed 18 times and set alight outside a western Sydney unit in April last year." There's a US connection to this last crime, incidentally. The torched ex-wife's brother lives in California, who on hearing of the Sheik's demise said "rest in hell f****n asshole". Tut, tut. What bad language.

A guy in Monis' position might think: what have I got to lose?

Except that he was regarded by some as either a crackpot or an upstanding citizen. Just a misunderstood guy. All kinds of people were willing to go bail for him -- in a manner of speaking. Recent developments will probably come as a shock to Irfan Yusuf who, on hearing of accusations that Monis was using the mail to harass people wrote on Crikey  some years ago: "give us a break, the fake sheik’s not worth the effort". Not worth the effort.

It will also deeply sadden one his three lawyers, Chris Murphy, who accompanied him to court back in November, 2009 to defend him against charges of harassing the survivors of Australian military veterans.

Mr Monis said he had sent the letters to the families offering his condolences, offering his help if they needed it, and asking them to tell the government to stop killing innocent civilians.

He produced a small Australian flag and waved it, saying he loved Australia and whatever he did was for the safety of all nations, Australia included.

During an application to scrap a bail condition that Mr Monis report to police three times a week, Mr Murphy said it was "quite unprecedented" for such a minor charge, which carried a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

He said Mr Monis was "without a single blur" on his character and had been "preaching peace".

"Without a single blur". Sadly, questions about Mr. Monis' character are likely to remain unresolved now that he's dead. But uppermost in the minds of many, especially those who have been in a jam, is the question of 'how did you make bail for a rap sheet like that?'

How did Monis pay for all his lawyers? Were the lawyers public defenders? If so they must have been pretty good. In the Philippines, public defenders typically tell the defendant only one thing: plead guilty. Monis apparently had better counsel. They were taking his appeals all the way to the Australian High Court. "On 3 January 2012 the defendants applied for Special Leave to Appeal to the High Court of Australia. The applications were heard on 22 June 2012 and special leave was granted to appeal to the Full Court."

The impression that emerges is not one of a poor harassed immigrant being persecuted by rabid mob, but of someone handled with kid gloves by a society which wished to give him every benefit of the doubt.


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