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Memorial services for Sydney siege victims begin

Credit: Reuters

Two victims of the deadly siege in Sydney were being remembered at private memorial services, a week after a gunman took them hostage inside a city cafe.

The memorial for Tori Johnson was held at a church close to the Lindt Chocolat Cafe, where he and 17 others were taken hostage on December 15 by shotgun-wielding Man Haron Monis, a 50-year-old Iranian-born, self-styled cleric with a long criminal history.

The stand-off ended 16 hours later when police stormed the cafe in a barrage of gunfire to free the captives.

Mr Johnson, the cafe's 34-year-old manager, and 38-year-old lawyer Katrina Dawson were killed, along with Monis.

Credit: Reuters

Mr Johnson has since been lauded for his heroism, after reports emerged that he tried to wrestle the shotgun away from Monis, sacrificing his life and allowing several of his fellow hostages to escape before police moved in.

His partner of 14 years, Thomas Zinn, and father, Ken Johnson, helped to carry the white coffin into St Stephen's Uniting Church for the service.

Ms Dawson's memorial was scheduled for later today.

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Court revokes bail for wife of Sydney hostage-taker

Amirah Droudis was on bail charged in connection with the murder of her husband's former wife. Credit: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

A court in Australia has ordered bail revoked for the wife of Man Haron Monis, a self-styled Sheikh who stormed a Sydney cafe at gunpoint last week, sparking a 16-hour hostage crisis that left three people dead, including the gunman.

Amirah Droudis, on bail after being charged with the stabbing death of Monis' former wife who was found set alight in a Sydney apartment block, was ordered by a Sydney court to return to jail to await trial.

Monis, who had been charged as an accessory to the murder, had also been free on bail.

Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson cited Droudis' prior convictions, the particularly heinous nature of the alleged offence and the slight possibility she might skip bail as factors in deciding to remand her in custody until trial.

Australian mother court plea rejected

An Australian magistrate has rejected a plea by lawyers for a woman charged with murdering eight children to hold the next hearing in a mental health court.

Mersane Warria, charged under her full name of Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday, is accused of killing seven of her children and her niece, whose bodies were found inside her home in Manoora, a suburb of Cairns, on Friday.

Police were called to the home in the morning after receiving a report of a woman with serious injuries. When they got to the house, they found the bodies, along with Warria, who had stab wounds to her chest.

Warria, 37, did not attend today's brief hearing at Cairns Magistrates Court as she is in hospital.

Magistrate Alan Comans rejected a request from Warria's lawyer to hold the case's next hearing in a mental health court.

Criminal cases are sometimes referred to such courts if the defendant is believed to be mentally ill or has an intellectual disability. The court then decides what the defendant's mental state was when they committed the offence.

The case was adjourned until January 30.

Australia: Mother charged with children's murder

An Australian woman has been charged with murder over the deaths of seven of her children and her niece, whose bodies were found inside her home.

Mersane Warria, 37, was charged with eight counts of murder in a bedside hearing at a Queensland hospital where she is recovering from stab wounds.

The children four girls and four boys, were aged between two and 14

Woman arrested after eight children killed in Australia

The 37-year-old mother of most of the eight children found dead in a mass stabbing in Australia's tropical northern city of Cairns has been arrested on suspicion of murder, police have confirmed.

Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said the woman, who was hospitalised on Friday with stab wounds, was lucid and awake and talking to police.

Asnicar said the woman was the mother of seven of the eight children, aged 18 months to 15 years. The eighth child was her niece.

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