Hashem Abedi: Manchester bomber’s brother to deny conspiring to launch terror attack at Ariana Grande concert

Defendant is charged with murder of 22 victims, attempted murder of survivors and conspiracy to cause explosion 

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
@lizziedearden
Thursday 18 July 2019 14:53
Manchester bomber's brother arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court

The brother of the Manchester bomber is to deny conspiring to commit the terror attack.

Hashem Abedi, 22, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court a day after being extradited to the UK from Libya.

He stood in the dock as the names of the 22 victims of his brother’s suicide bombing, including several children, were read out.

Prosecutor Kathryn Selby told the court that Mr Abedi had been charged with 22 counts of murder, the attempted murder of injured victims and conspiring with his brother, Salman, to cause an explosion.

The court heard that 260 people were seriously injured in the blast on 22 May 2017, and at least 600 reported psychological harm.

Mr Abedi’s defence lawyer, Zafar Ali QC, said the defendant denied all charges. No formal pleas were entered during a brief hearing on Thursday.

Mr Ali told the court that his client had been in solitary confinement since his arrest in Libya two years ago, and had been tortured by the Special Deterrence Force in Tripoli – a militia affiliated to the UN-backed government in the ongoing civil war.

He said Mr Abedi was forced to sign a 40-page statement under extreme duress and did not contest extradition because he wanted to return to the UK to clear his name.

Mr Abedi spoke to give his name and date of birth to the court, and confirmed his nationality as British.

Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot remanded him in custody ahead of a bail hearing at Oxford Crown Court on Monday.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place at the Old Bailey in London on 30 July.

Mr Abedi, who was raised in Manchester, was in Libya when his older brother detonated his suicide bomb as Ariana Grande fans poured out of a concert at Manchester Arena.

Inquests into the victims’ death cannot be held until the conclusion of criminal proceedings.

Additional reporting by PA