Lindt cafe hostage Marcia Mikhael left frustrated by Tony Abbott

Marcia Mikhael enters the inquest into the deaths arising from the Lindt cafe siege on Tuesday. Photo: Nick MoirSiege hostage wanted to stab Monis in the neckTori Johnson’s triple zero callMonis agree to let Katrina Dawson leave’If you wait, someone is going to die’
Nanjing Night Net

Lindt cafe hostage Marcia Mikhael has described her growing frustration at the failure to meet the demands of gunman Man Haron Monis, saying: “I didn’t understand why it was so difficult for the prime minister to get on the phone”.

Ms Mikhael, who was one of the few hostages still inside the Martin Place cafe when police eventually stormed the building at 2.14am, also recalled being carried over Monis’ body and “half of his head was blown out”.

Another hostage, barista Harriette Denny, has told an inquest into the siege that she asked a police officer soon after the 17-hour ordeal ended if all the hostages had got out alive.

“He said yes and I was really happy for about an hour before I found out,” Ms Denny said, breaking down in tears.

Her friend and cafe manager Tori Johnson was executed by Monis at about 2.13am on December 15, 2014. Barrister Katrina Dawson died after being injured by shrapnel from police bullets as they stormed the building to end the siege moments later.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Ms Mikhael said she did not see and could not recall Monis executing Mr Johnson.

She said she heard Monis fire a shot at a group of escaping hostages and also heard him reload his shot gun. She and hostage Katrina Dawson lay on their stomachs and hid under tables and chairs and the next thing she remembered was “fireworks”.

Ms Mikhael, who at the time was working as a project manager for Westpac, said she saw “bright flashes exploding… it was like being inside a firework, loud noises, the smell of gun powder, it was the most horrible thing, just to be right in the middle of it.”

The project manager said she became angry and swore at the police negotiators she was speaking to by phone because she felt she wasn’t being treated like an intelligent woman who could help the situation.

Monis had demanded an Islamic State flag be brought to the cafe and a phone call with then-prime minister Tony Abbott live on radio.

“I couldn’t comprehend why it was so difficult for us to get a flag,” she told counsel assisting the inquest Jeremy Gormly SC.

“I didn’t understand why it was so difficult for the prime minister to get on the phone.”

Ms Mikhael said the police negotiator told her Mr Abbott was too busy to speak to Monis.

“I was told, ‘Sorry Marcia, the prime minister is a very busy man’.

“I’m sorry but you don’t tell someone who has a gun at their head that.

“I’m going to feel like I’m a piece of nothing and I’m going to die. Just pick up the phone!

“People didn’t think our lives were worth saving.”

Ms Mikhael told the inquest at the time she didn’t understand the “meaning of an ISIS flag” and that police feared Monis would use the flag in carrying out an “atrocity”.

But she said she was most frustrated at the failure of hostage negotiators to “give me more information to help others to understand what was going on… all I was given was not so intelligent conversation”.

Asked by counsel for Mr Johnson’s family, Gabrielle Bashir SC, what the negotiator told her about the demand for a flag, she said: “the reason was, ‘we’re working on it and as soon as I get permission from my supervisors you will get the flag’.”

But as evening fell, she realised the police would not negotiate with him and his demands were not going to be met. She believed Monis “had a plan to die”.

“I’m not a stupid person, he’s asked for a flag and a phone call and if it hasn’t been done it wasn’t going to happen. I was just waiting.”

She came to believe police would not act unless a hostage was killed or injured.

“They have not negotiated … they have left us here to die,” she said during one of the phone calls to a radio station, which was ultimately transferred to police.

Ms Denny echoed Ms Mikhael’s sentiments about Monis’ demands. “I didn’t understand why they don’t give him a flag – that would be one hostage out – I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t have Tony Abbott talk – that was five hostages out,” she said.

Ms Mikhael said Monis was paranoid and unpredictable but she didn’t think he would shoot any hostages unless he was provoked, so she tried to go along with his demands.

“If he wanted us to make a silly phone call or silly video, we would. If he felt betrayed by us… he would be capable of doing something.”

However, she came to the belief Monis did not have a bomb.

Earlier on Tuesday Ms Mikhael thanked the first police officer on the scene, Senior Constable Paul Withers, for helping to calm her down. Mr Withers made contact with Ms Mikhael by using hand gestures through the glass swing doors that lead to a foyer on Martin Place. He encouraged her to breathe and settle down and then she helped him ascertain how many gunmen were inside using her fingers.

“I don’t think I could have got through it if someone hadn’t calmed me down,” she said.

“I was hoping he was going to come back with lots and lots of police but it didn’t quite happen that way.”

Ms Mikhael said after police stormed the cafe she was picked up and carried by two tactical police officers.

“They had to step over Monis and half of his head was blown out,” she said.

The inquest before Coroner Michael Barnes continues.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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