KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — Iranian gunman Man Haron Monis who kept Sydney gripped in a deadly hostage crisis had fled to Malaysia after committing “violent” crimes in Iran before seeking asylum in Australia, according to the Middle Eastern nation’s police.
Monis, who was shot dead by Australian police after holding 17 people hostage in a Sydney cafe, had absconded to Malaysia in 1996 during a time when he was wanted for those and fraud-related crimes.
Aside from his alleged crimes in Iran, Monis was also facing trial in Australia for a number of offences, including being accessory to the murder of his wife as well as over 40 sexual assault charges involving seven alleged victims.
It is unclear when the Iranian left Malaysia for Australia, where he was granted refugee status in 2001.
Iranian police chief General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam also revealed that Australia had declined Iran’s request to extradite Monis to stand trial for his crimes.
Moghaddam also alleged that Monis had sought asylum by masquerading as a Muslim cleric.
“It lasted four years to collect evidence on Manteqi’s [Monis’] identification documents and we reported this to the Australian police but since Australia has no extradition treaty with Iran, they didn’t extradite him,” Moghaddam was quoted as saying in a report by the Mehr News Agency.
Monis’ refugee status also precluded Australia from repatriating him to Iran.
Malaysia is a popular transit point for Iranians seeking to escape the Middle Eastern regime, owing to shared religious and cultural links between the two nations.
According to the Iranian embassy in 2011, there were over 70,000 of the country’s citizens residing in Malaysia, while an estimated 130,000 of its tourists arrive here annually.
The use of Malaysia as a jump-off point by Iranians was also illustrated during the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March, when two Iranians travelling on stolen passports initially triggered suspicions that the Malaysia Airlines plane had fallen victim to a terrorist attack.
The two men were later revealed to be travelling to Europe where they had hoped to seek asylum.