One of Man Haron Monis‘ first court appearances was for charges of using a postal service to harass the families of dead Australian soldiers.
When he faced the Downing Centre Court in Sydney’s CBD on November 10, 2009, he described the letters as condolence cards and flower baskets.
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He made a dramatic entrance to the courtroom dressed in flowing robes and at times chose to stand at the back of the public gallery.
Monis insisted he sent the letters to encourage the families to lobby the Australian Government to pull out of countries such as Afghanistan.
But in the letters he was abusive and accused the soldiers of being child killers, criminals and murderers.
His lawyer at the time, Chris Murphy, told the court his client was “a peace activist”.
After this first day at the Downing Centre, Monis chained himself to a railing outside holding an Australian flag.
He stayed there the entire day in front of the media holding the flag in one hand and a sign above his head calling for Australian troops to be brought home from overseas.
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He told me he was prepared to stay chained to the railing all night and he almost did. But on this occasion he displayed no signs of violence.
A police van was parked nearby and Monis said police told him they were “there for his protection”.
He had been arrested by counter-terrorism police at his Croydon Park home in Sydney’s inner-west a month earlier.
After the hearing, Monis held up a pen outside the court and said it was a weapon he used to write condolence letters asking families to pressure the Federal Government to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I don’t want to lose our soldiers. I don’t want Australia to be unsafe,” he said.
After his bail was continued he chained himself outside the court for a second day. On day two a few onlookers stopped to look at the signs he held up. One commented it was inappropriate for him to be there on Remembrance Day.
The judge who eventually sentenced him to 300 hours’ community service and a two-year good behaviour bond for the offences described them as deplorable.
Monis pursued the matter all the way to the High Court arguing the case against him was “political” and “unconstitutional”.
Last Friday the High Court threw his last attempt at an appeal out.
This article originally appeared on ABC News and is republished here with permission.
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