Manchester Arena bomber’s brother convicted for failing to give evidence to inquiry after leaving UK

Manchester Arena bomber’s brother convicted for failing to give evidence to inquiry after leaving UK

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The Manchester Arena bomber’s older brother has been convicted over failing to give evidence at the inquiry into the terror attack.

Ismail Abedi, now 28, did not attend his court hearing on Thursday. He left the UK in August last year and is not believed to have returned.

His youngest brother, Salman Abedi, murdered 22 victims in an Isis-inspired bombing at Manchester Arena in May 2017.

A second brother, Hashem Abedi, has been jailed for life for helping prepare the attack, which was the deadliest terrorist atrocity in the UK since the 2005 London bombings.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that Ismail refused to give a witness statement to the public inquiry into the bombing and refused to cooperate with its legal team.

He claimed privilege against self-incrimination, demanded formal assurances that he would not be prosecuted on the basis of any evidence and claimed his family would be put at risk.

The chair, Sir John Saunders, committed to protecting Ismail from any “improper questions” but refused to apply to the attorney general for a legal undertaking not to bring any potential prosecution.

Greater Manchester Police also outlined safety measures to be taken for Ismail’s family, which the court heard were “sufficient”.

When he still refused to cooperate, he was served with a legal notice in July last year requiring him to give evidence to the inquiry on 21 October.

The notice warned that it would be a criminal offence to attend without a reasonable excuse, but on 28 August, Ismail left the country.

The inquiry previously heard that police stopped him under terror laws before he boarded a flight from Manchester Airport, but let him go after he claimed he was planning to return in time to give evidence.

Bereaved families have voiced their anger and frustration over his refusal to answer questions.

✕ Public inquiry into Manchester Arena bombing opens

Nicholas de la Poer QC, who prosecuted Thursday’s case and is also counsel to the inquiry, told the court: “He has prevaricated, he has obfuscated, he has thrown up every obstacle he could think of. When that failed, he left the jurisdiction.”

District Judge Jack McGarva found him guilty of failing without reasonable excuse to do something required by a section 21 notice.

“I am satisfied he was in a position to give relevant evidence to the inquiry [and] he has not advanced any evidence before the court today,” he added.

“There are important questions the families of the deceased would have appreciated having answers to.”

The judge adjourned the case to 2 August, saying that if Ismail did not attend that hearing he could issue an arrest warrant that would be shared internationally.

He added: “The court is bound to consider passing a custodial sentence.

”There is a very high level of public interest in ensuring people co-operate with public inquiries.”

Desk Team

Desk Team