A lone gunman later identified as Man Haron Monis held 17 hostages at gunpoint in the Lindt café in central Sydney on December 16, 2014; in the end he shot dead two of the hostages before police shot him. Among the many questions to be investigated in the aftermath, the one of why he was out on bail will be at the top of the list. Andrew L. Urban reports.
Out on bail: Man Haron Monis – convicted of harassing families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan; on bail for alleged complicity in the murder of his former wife; on bail for multiple sexual offences; a history of violence and anti-social behaviour.
Refused bail: Sue Neill-Fraser – arrested on flimsy circumstantial evidence and charged with murdering her partner of 18 years, despite absence of body (never found) absence of weapon, absence of witnesses, absence of motive; no history of violence, no criminal record, respectable middle class grandmother.
The irony is made worse by the fact that Monis being on bail has hardened the community’s already cynical view that the courts are too lenient on perpetrators. In such a climate, who will stand up for or even listen to the Sue Neill-Frasers, for whom the criminal justice system is a misnomer, whose experience in the courts have proven to be unjust and undemocratic. (Neill-Fraser spent over 12 months in custody prior to her trial.)
And what to make of the discrepancies between such cases? How can a democratic society function fairly if its justice system is so askew?