Brother of Manchester Arena bomber extradited to the UK from Libya and charged with murder
The suicide bombing at a UK pop concert in 2017 killed 22 people and injured more than 500 others
The brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber who is suspected of helping plan the UK atrocity has finally been extradited from Libya and charged with murder after a two year wait.
Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton born to Libyan parents, blew himself up at the end of a show by US singer Ariana Grande in the deadliest militant attack in Britain for 12 years.
The terror attack killed 22 people and injured more than 500 others.
The UK had requested the extradition of his younger brother Hashem, 21, after police issued an arrest warrant against him for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion.
But due to unrest in Libya his extradition had been delayed until now.
He was arrested at an airport in London on Wednesday as he stepped onto British soil and has been charged with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.
The families of the 22 victims have waited for justice for their loved ones since May 2017 but now many fear there will be further delays in the case.
A pre-inquest review hearing is due to take place in Manchester on Monday.
But under British law criminal proceedings take precedent over an inquest.
Director of solicitor’s firm Broudie Jackson Canter, Elkan Abrahamson, who represents many of the families, told The National: “The concern of the families will be that the inquest and inquiry is not further delayed.
“Our stance is there is no reason why the criminal proceedings can’t conclude before April 2020. We will certainly be raising this.”
Abedi is expected to attend Westminster Magistrates Court to face charges.
On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the victims' families.
She said: "We all know that the attack that took place in Manchester was appalling and senseless and this is clearly an important moment.
"I hope it is a welcome step for all the loved ones who have commanded themselves with such dignity at a deeply distressing time as they searched for justice.
"I would like to thank everyone who has helped us to come to this point."
Earlier on Wednesday, the force who was holding him in the Libyan capital Tripoli, the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), handed him to officers from Greater Manchester Police who escorted him back to the UK.
An Rada official said: "Hashem is now in the air on his way to the UK...he is extradited in accordance with a court verdict.
"We received an official letter from the head of the attorney general's investigations department, telling us to extradite Hashem Abedi to UK authorities based on a verdict by Tripoli's court of appeals."
Sources on the ground in Tripoli told The National that both the Ministry of Justice and the Interior Ministry in the Libyan capital had independently confirmed Abedi’s extradition.
The ministries had enacted the extradition to the UK in accordance with an earlier court ruling.
They also confirmed the suspect had been held by Special Deterrent Forces, known as Rada, since he was arrested in 2017 in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing attack.
A Tripoli resident, who asked for his name to be withheld for security reasons, explained while locals had been saddened by Libyan involvement in the ISIS-inspired terror attack, Abedi’s extradition barely registered in the embattled city. “The lack of services leave people in Tripoli exhausted and they are working here and there just to provide for their daily needs,” he explained.
Rada, a counter-terrorism and anti-crime group aligned with the internationally recognised government in Tripoli, arrested Hashem shortly after the bombing on suspicion he had helped plan the attack.
Rada said at the time that the brothers had flown together to Libya in April 2017, before Salman returned to Britain to carry out the attack at the Manchester Arena in May.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli had agreed last year to his return to the UK but had been unable to convince the Rada to transfer him.
Even pleas by a UK coroner and the victims' families ahead of the second anniversary failed to see any movement in the case until now.
British police believe Hashem helped his brother to buy the materials used to make the explosive device used in the attack.
Hashem was living with his father, a Qaddafi-era dissident, and other family members in Tripoli at the time of the attack.
He was arrested by the militia days after the concert bombing and was being held in a prison near Tripoli airport.
Attempts to extradite him had also been hampered by the fact that as a dual national with British and Libyan citizenship, he could ask not to be extradited under Libyan law.
But the GNA Attorney General gave commitments to British diplomats to push forward.
Updated: July 17, 2019 07:00 PM