The investigation into the police raid which ended a 16-hour siege in a Sydney cafe is well advanced, the head of the New South Wales police has said.
Commissioner Andrew Scipione said he believed officers made “absolutely the right call” in storming the cafe.
Two hostages and gunman Man Haron Monis were killed during the raid, but police are not yet saying who shot them.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also promised to investigate why Monis was not under surveillance.
Monis, an Iranian who was granted asylum in Australia, had been charged with being an accessory to his wife’s murder and with dozens of sexual assault offences.
The day before he took 17 people hostage in the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place, he had been refused the right to appeal against a conviction for sending “grossly offensive” letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Iran also says he was wanted there over fraud allegations, but that Australia had refused to extradite him 14 years ago.
Cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, and Katrina Dawson, a 38-year old lawyer, died along with Monis when commandos stormed the cafe in the early hours of Tuesday.
- 1. At 09:45 on Monday local time (22:45 GMT Sunday) police are called to the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney following reports of an armed robbery. It soon emerges a gunman is holding a number of people hostage.
- 2. Between 16:00-17:00, three men, then two women, sprint to safety from the cafe’s side door – a fire exit.
- 3. Just after 02:00 on Tuesday, a loud bang is heard from the cafe and special operations officers advance towards the side door.
- 4. More hostages escape, running to safety on Elizabeth Street.
- 5. Moments later, commandos storm the cafe via a number of entrances. The remaining hostages escape.
- 6. Police officially confirm the end of the siege at 02:45 local time. They later report the deaths of three people, including the gunman.
How Sydney cafe siege unfolded
Man Haron Monis: ‘Damaged’ and ‘unstable’
Thousands of people have been paying tribute to the victims at the Martin Place memorial, and signing books of condolence around the country.
Speaking in Martin Place on Wednesday, Mr Scipione said the investigation into the actions of the police was “well advanced”, but that some 70 interviews were still to take place.
“My own personal view is that if they [commandos] hadn’t have moved when they moved, this could have been much much worse,” he said.
“I don’t think this could have been done any better anywhere else in the world by any other group,” he said, and dismissed suggestions in the media that the military should have been called in.
When asked whether Monis should have been on a terror watch list, Mr Scipione said it was important to remember that none of the charges he faced related to political violence.
“Clearly we work on a priority-based system so if someone is on a national security watch list we watch them but on this particular occasion he was not.”
But he said police were “concerned that this man got bail from the very beginning” and had asked the court to refuse the request.
Monis has a history of religiously motivated activism and called himself a cleric, but officials say there is as yet no evidence his actions were linked to international Islamist militant networks, despite his use of a flag with the Islamic creed on it during the siege.
People who knew him have said he appeared mentally unstable.
But Mr Abbott told ABC Radio on Wednesday: “We want to know why he wasn’t being monitored, given his history of violence, his history of mental instability, and his history of infatuation with extremism.”
“The system did not adequately deal with this individual. There’s no doubt about that, and this is why we’ve got to constantly learn the lessons of everything that happens.”