Arena bomb brother guilty of failing to attend public inquiryon July 14, 2022 at 10:39 am

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Ismail Abedi has refused to answer questions from the inquiry in case he incriminates himself.

Ismail Abedi

The elder brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber has been convicted of failing to appear at a public inquiry he was ordered to attend.

Ismail Abedi, 29, refused to answer questions from the inquiry in case he incriminated himself.

The chairman, Sir John Saunders, had rejected his position and demanded he appear as a witness.

Last year Abedi fled the UK and has not returned. He now uses the name Ben Romdhan.

Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds injured when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

Younger brother Hashem Abedi was jailed two years ago after being convicted of murdering all those who died.

At Manchester Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Jack McGarva convicted Ismail Abedi of failing to comply with a legal notice to attend the Manchester Arena inquiry as a witness.

He said “I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt he has no reasonable excuse for not attending” and “he is guilty of the offence as charged”.

Top row (left to right): Alison Howe, Martyn Hett, Lisa Lees, Courtney Boyle, Eilidh MacLeod, Elaine McIver, Georgina Callander, Jane Tweddle - Middle row (left to right): John Atkinson, Kelly Brewster, Liam Curry, Chloe Rutherford, Marcin Klis, Angelika Klis, Megan Hurley, Michelle Kiss - Bottom row (left to right): Nell Jones, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, Philip Tron, Saffie-Rose Roussos, Sorrell Leczkowski, Wendy Fawell

Image source, Family handouts

Mr McGarva said he could not issue an arrest warrant on Thursday and adjourned the hearing until 2 August.

The district judge said that, if Ismail Abedi fails to attend in August, an arrest warrant could be issued and he would then be “posted as wanted” by international policing bodies.

“I think we know what’s likely to happen,” he said.

Nicholas de lar Poer QC, prosecuting, earlier said that “his failure to attend was deliberate”.

He said: “The defendant from the first was determined not to cooperate with the Inquiry. He has prevaricated and he has obfuscated.

“He has thrown up every obstacle he could think of. When those failed, he fled the jurisdiction.”

Mr de la Poer added: “In the end it comes down to this. He was lawfully required to attend, he did not attend and there is no good reason for him not attending.”

In May 2020 Ismail Abedi was asked to provide a witness statement and 39 topic areas were identified.

In July that year he responded in writing saying he would not provide a witness statement “because I am concerned about the risk of self-incrimination”.

He was told that failure to comply was a criminal offence, to which he replied: “I do not wish to answer the questions”.

He asserted he wished to claim privilege against self-incrimination.

It was pointed out by the inquiry that such privilege could only ever be claimed on a question by question basis, not in blanket form.

Ismail Abedi then asked for immunity from prosecution from the Attorney General before he would agree to give evidence, but the inquiry chairman refused the application.

A formal notice was then issued requiring the defendant to attend the inquiry on 21 October 2021.

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