Very evil smart guy: Former lawyer of siege gunman speaks

A former lawyer for the gunman behind the deadly Sydney siege has described his former client as an “evil” man obsessed with attention.

Sheikh Man Haron Monis

The Sydney siege gunman criticised Australian "terrorism" on his website a day before the siege. (AAP) Source: SBS

Iranian-born self-styled cleric  died during a confrontation with police on Tuesday, 16 hours after he took 17 people hostage at the Lindt chocolate cafe in Sydney's CBD.

Two hostages, 34-year-old Tori Johnson and 38-year-old Katrina Dawson, also died.

Nazir Daawar briefly represented Monis when he faced charges over sending abusive letters to the families of slain diggers.

The Sydney lawyer says he later withdrew as his legal counsel after Monis repeatedly ignored warnings not to speak to the media.

“He was a smart guy, but a very evil smart guy. He wanted to be the centre of attention everywhere.”
Mr Daawar told SBS that Monis’s demands during the siege, including an interview with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, were designed to gain publicity.

“That’s what he wanted,” he said.

“He was a smart guy, but a very evil smart guy. He wanted to be the centre of attention everywhere.”

Mr Daawar said Monis had previously had a small number of followers, but he soon became isolated from the Iranian and Islamic community in Australia due to his erratic behaviour.

“He was preaching to be an Islamic Shia scholar but he was not,” he said.

“He was drinking. He was clubbing.”

He also questioned his supposed conversion from Shia ideology to that recognised by Islamic State militants, stating that they are conflicting beliefs.

Mr Daawar said Monis was facing charges in Iran – including charges relating to alleged sexual assaults – but the lawyer says he doesn't blame the Australian government for reportedly denying a request from Iran for extradition.

“I was told that Iran sought extradition, but because he made refugee claim based on persecution,” he said.

“I don’t think Australian agencies at that time knew more about this person, even his real name.”


2 min read
Published 18 December 2014 at 11:40am
By Stephanie Anderson
Source: SBS