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Chilling accounts from Lindt hostages

AAP logoAAP 17/08/2016

CHILLING ACCOUNTS FROM SIEGE HOSTAGES

SELINA WIN PE

One of the last six of 18 hostages, she made a chilling call to police with a demand from Monis for the cafe's lights to be switched off. "I have 15 minutes or I'm going to get shot with a rifle," Ms Win Pe told negotiators about an hour before armed police stormed the cafe. She also told of Tori Johnson's final moments when the words "Oh my God" were heard just before he was shot dead by Monis. Ms Win Pe criticised police, saying "it just felt as though we had been left to die".

MARCIA MIKHAEL

Ms Mikhael was shot as police stormed the cafe, describing the scene as like being "inside a firework". She had earlier feared authorities weren't concerned about saving hostages when police rejected a demand she relayed from Monis to speak to then-prime minister Tony Abbott. "You don't tell someone who has a gun pointed at their head that," she said.

HARRIETTE DENNY

The Lindt Cafe barista, who was pregnant, ran for the building's exit arm-in-arm with fellow hostage Joel Herat as two shots fired in their direction by Monis whizzed past them. Like many of her fellow hostages, Ms Denny believed no one cared or was willing to help their situation. "We felt like they were not doing anything, the police," she said.

PAOLO VASSALLO

The cafe supervisor believed the hostages had been abandoned. Monis telling them "No one cares about you ... the government doesn't care if you die" made them feel like hope was gone. "You'd like not to believe it, but as the day went on, you sort of did believe it. No one was coming," Mr Vassallo said. He pleaded with police: "You can't wait for this guy, he's going to shoot someone. You have to go in."

JARROD MORTON-HOFFMAN

Ten minutes before the siege ended, the 19-year-old cafe worker escaped with five others. Earlier, Mr Morton-Hoffman attempted to inform police of the state-of-play by slipping notes under a door. His decision to flee came as Monis checked the emergency door. "This was our only opportunity to make a final escape before the police would be forced to enter the cafe, and if they did ... there would probably be a lot of collateral damage," he said.

LOUISE HOPE

Ms Hope was praying when six hostages escaped 10 minutes before the siege ended. As a result, she was left behind with her mother Robin, Tori Johnson, Katrina Dawson and Marcia Mikhael. She then watched Monis psyching himself up like "an athlete preparing for a big event". "Then he shot the gun and I felt the gunshot ... Tori fell forward with his hands still at his head," she said.

JULIE TAYLOR

Ms Taylor broke down while telling how Mr Johnson showed "amazing bravery and was very calm" before Monis killed him. She almost walked from the siege in its early stages along with fellow barrister Katrina Dawson, but stopped because Monis had threatened to kill one hostage for every one who escaped. "I couldn't live with someone being shot because of our escape," she said. Ms Taylor, who was pregnant at the time, escaped with five others shortly before the siege ended.

JOEL HERAT

The cafe worker didn't expect to survive. He contemplated stabbing Monis to give others a chance to escape but decided it was too risky. Around 2am, when Monis seized two female hostages as human shields, Mr Herat grabbed fellow cafe worker Harriette Denny and ran for the exit as Monis fired two shots. "I didn't look behind me," he said. "I thought he was going to come out and follow us on to Martin Place and shoot us dead."

ELLY CHEN

Panicked and hyperventilating, the cafe worker hid under a table as colleague April Bae discreetly unlocked exit doors while Monis wasn't looking. The pair fled around 5pm, defying Monis' threat to kill hostages. "We waited until we were sure that he wouldn't be able to hear us and we left," Ms Chen said, adding she was hesitant to leave as she believed Monis would follow through on a threat to hold Tori Johnson responsible if anyone escaped.

FIONA MA

The cafe staffer hid in an office while six others escaped. As Monis chased after fleeing hostages, Ms Ma decided it was time to run. "He fired the gun and then he was reloading," said Ms Ma. "I thought if he's reloading, I can run out now."

JOHN O'BRIEN

The 82-year-old former international tennis player was the first hostage to emerge from the cafe about 3.40pm. Mr O'Brien had earlier refused Monis's order to lie on the floor, saying he was too old. He recalled Monis had vowed mid-morning to "kill us one-by-one" because Tony Abbott wasn't answering his calls, and said the-then prime minister "would have blood on his hands".

STEFAN BALAFOUTIS

A colleague of victim Katrina Dawson, Mr Balafoutis followed Mr O'Brien out of the cafe. Early on in the siege Monis had told Ms Dawson and Julie Taylor they could leave. "Katrina responded and ... I think she pointed at me and said 'can he come with us'," Mr Balafoutis said. "Monis said 'yes, you can all go'." The trio headed towards the door but Mr Balafoutis doesn't recall why they stopped.

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