Manchester Arena extradition put on hold by Libya due to Tripoli attacks

‘We have to wait until the conflict is finished,’ says interior minister on extradition of suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s brother

Adam Forrest@adamtomforrest
Saturday 27 April 2019 00:08
Hashem Abedi, brother of the Manchester attacker Salman Abedi
Hashem Abedi, brother of the Manchester attacker Salman Abedi

The extradition of Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s brother from Libya to the UK has been put on hold because of fighting in Tripoli, the Libyan interior minister has said.

Libyan authorities have agreed to return 21-year-old Hashem Abedi because he is a British citizen, but attacks on the capital by rebel forces have delayed proceedings.

“Now they are waiting. Now the war, everything is stopped. We have to wait until the conflict is finished,” interior minister Fathi Bashagha told the BBC.

“All our attention we are paying is towards how to push back the [Khalifa] Haftar militia attacking Tripoli. This is important for us.”

Mr Abedi, who is wanted in the UK in relation to the deaths of 22 people in the suicide bombing carried out by his brother Salman, was arrested taken into custody in Tripoli in May 2017.

British authorities made the extradition request in November 2017, and Greater Manchester Police has said it wants to arrest him for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion.

In his interview on Friday, Mr Bashagha criticised the British government for withdrawing diplomats and security personnel from Tripoli in response to the recent rebel offensive on the city.

The minister said relations between the countries had been “damaged” by the withdrawal and would take time to repair.

Fighters loyal to the government run for cover during clashes with forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar on 25 April (AFP/Getty Images)

Rockets and mortar shells were reportedly fired by forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter on residential neighborhoods in Tripoli on Friday.

Mr Hafter’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive to take the capital city earlier this month and is battling militias loosely allied with the UN-supported government based there.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the organisation is “gravely concerned” at continued reports of indiscriminate shelling of populated areas.

“Civilians in conflict-affected areas are experiencing electricity cuts and water shortages as a result of damaged infrastructure, while access to essential items such as food, medicine and fuel is severely disrupted,” said Mr Dujarric.

Almost 39,000 people have been displaced by the fighting over the past three weeks, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The Independent has contacted the Foreign Office for comment.