A witness told journalists: „He was watching the people (and saying), ‚Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar‘ and hitting the (car with his hand)“
Police have dismissed claims from a witness of the Melbourne mall driving rampage that the driver repeatedly screamed „Allahu Akbar!“ during the incident.
The witness interview at the scene was broadcast on Australian television news and has circulated on social media after being posted by a journalist for Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper.
The reporter later deleted the video tweet at the request of Victoria Police, although Channel Seven News broadcast the witness interview.
The issue has fuelled claims on social media authorities and parts of the media were involved in a terrorism cover up.
(Photo: ABC News)
The Arabic phrase means „God is great“ and is often linked with terror attacks.
Far right wing Senator and One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson today claimed the rampage was a terrorist attack.
„I have just been told there is a terrorist attack that has just happened in Melbourne,“ she said.
Herald Sun crime reporter Andrea Hamblin posted the video of the witness describing the scene and comments allegedly made by Dimitrious Gargasoulas.
„The witness, Stefano, describes the driver screaming at people on the street,“ Hamblin wrote on Twitter.
In the clip, Stefano says: „He was watching the people (and saying), ‚Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!‘ and hitting the (car with his hand).“
However, Hamblin later deleted the tweet.
„Police have asked me (to) take down this video of man speaking to journos at the scene.
„They’re concerned it makes people believe it was a terror event.“
She later added about the witnesses.
„Varying accounts of what driver said were reported,“ she wrote.
„This was one. Also reported others. Police want to hear from anyone who saw the man.“
Victoria Police later tweeted confirming it was „aware of this video“.
„However statements from dozens of other witnesses are not consistent with this report,“ the account said.
„VicPol reiterates that there is no evidence to support that this incident is terrorist related.“
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton had earlier said at a news conference the driver had no links to terrorism.
He was, however, was well-known to police and had an extensive history of family violence, drugs and mental health issues.
„He has come to our attention on many occasions in the past,” Mr Ashton said.
“That is mainly linked to drug issues and mental health problems.
“He also came into our attention in recent days in relation to assaults and was charged by us last weekend.”
Four people have been confirmed dead while another four were listed as critical among up to 25 people who were injured in the rampage.
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