Sydney Gunman Was Facing Sex Assault Charges

Man Haron Monis also charged as accessory in ex-wife's murder
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2014 10:30 AM CST
Sydney Gunman Is 'Cleric' Facing Sex Assault Charges
Hostages run toward armed tactical-response police as they run to freedom from a cafe under siege at Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

The man behind a hostage situation just ended at a Sydney chocolate cafe has been identified as Man Haron Monis, who calls himself a cleric and was already in serious trouble with the law. Monis, 50, has previously been charged as an accessory to his ex-wife's murder. And after working as a "spiritual healer" more than 10 years ago, he was charged with more than 50 counts of sexual and indecent assault; many of those charges came in October, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. It's not yet clear if Monis survived the siege.

Born Manteghi Bourjerdi in Iran, Monis fled to Australia in 1996, 9News reports. The Sydney resident was convicted for writing "offensive and deplorable letters" to deceased Australian soldiers' families between 2007 and 2009. He was sentenced to 300 hours of community service over the letters, a legal battle that he has continued to wage. On Friday, he lost his final attempt to have a court overturn the charges, the Morning Herald notes. He initially called the accusations political but pleaded guilty last year to all related charges. His girlfriend, who was also involved in the letter-writing, was charged in November 2013 with the murder of his ex-wife, who was stabbed and set on fire. (More Sydney stories.)

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