Manchester Arena bomber’s brother sentenced in absentia
The older brother of the Manchester Arena bomber was sentenced in absentia today for failing to testify at the public inquiry into the attack.
Ismail Abedi, 28, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, had refused to cooperate with the investigation into the attack that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.
He was summoned to testify by the chairman, Sir John Saunders, and his case was listed for hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court today under another name he used, Ishmale Ben Romdhan.
But he did not attend and was subsequently found guilty by District Judge Jack McGarva, without reasonable excuse, of failing to do something required by a Section 21 notice.
The judge adjourned the case until August 2 and said if Abedi was not present, a warrant would be issued for his arrest. As a legal investigation, witnesses may be called to testify.
Ismail Abedi, 28, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, had declined to cooperate with the public inquiry but was urged by the chairman, Sir John Saunders, to be present to testify
“The court must consider imposing a custodial sentence,” the judge said.
“There is a very high public interest in making sure people cooperate in public inquiries.”
He said Abedi could have commented on “some really important points that the families of the deceased really would have liked answers to”.
Nicholas de la Poer QC, Prosecutor, said: “The Prosecution contends that the chronology allows you to be certain that the defendant was determined from the outset not to cooperate with the investigation.
“He made evasions, he covered up, he threw up every obstacle he could think of.
“When these failed, he fled the judiciary.
“In the end it boils down to this: he was required by law to attend, he did not attend, and there is no good reason why he did not attend.”
The court heard that Abedi had previously said he did not wish to answer the inquest’s questions because he was concerned about the risk of self-incrimination, had already been questioned by police and was concerned for his own safety and that of his family.
But District Judge McGarva found he had no reasonable excuse not to attend.
The court heard Abedi was stopped by police at Manchester Airport on August 28 last year and told them he intended to return to the country the following month.
He left the country the following day and is believed not to have returned.
The IT worker was described as a key witness for the investigation who was able to answer questions about the radicalization of his younger brothers Salman, who carried out the suicide bombing that killed 22 people on May 22, 2017, and Hashem, who was jailed for his role in the bombing.
He also had potential evidence of preparing the bomb, the inquest says, as his DNA was found on a hammer in a car where the explosives were stored.
Ismail’s brother Salman made his way from Victoria Station in Manchester on May 22, 2017 to the Manchester Arena where he detonated his bomb, killing 22 people
He had previously been stopped at Heathrow Airport in 2015 and it was found that there was a “significant” amount of “very disturbing” material on his phone, which was described as “an Islamic State mentality”.
Survivors called Ismail Abedi a “coward” for refusing to answer questions.
His father, Ramadan Abedi, was linked to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a militia linked to the terrorist organization al-Qaeda, the public inquiry learned.
He lives in Libya, did not participate in the investigation either, and the police want to question him as a suspect.
Hashem Abedi, 24, has been jailed for life for the 22 killings at the arena for helping in the bombing.