LONDON: The brother of a suicide bomber who killed 22 people in the British city of Manchester was found guilty on Tuesday (Mar 17) of 22 counts of murder over the 2017 attack.
Hashem Abedi was also convicted of one count of attempted murder and conspiring with his brother Salman to cause explosions at an Ariana Grande concert almost exactly three years ago.
It was one of the deadliest terror attacks ever carried out in the UK, and also saw more than 200 people injured.
Families of some of the victims cried when the verdict was read out at the Old Bailey court in London, although Hashem did not attend.
Paul Hett, whose 19-year-old son Martyn was killed, said the verdict would not bring back the dead but gave “an overwhelming sense of justice to all those affected by this heinous crime”.
Martyn’s mother said it would not give the family “closure”.
Hashem was not at the scene of the attack, in fact he was in Libya when it took place, but prosecutors said the Manchester-born brothers were “jointly responsible” for the atrocity.
THE REAL DEAL
The court heard the suicide bombing was carried out as a result of months of planning by the brothers.
Hashem, now 22, obtained chemicals for a home-made bomb and also found an address in Manchester to manufacture the explosive and store it.
The court also heard he bought a car to store other bomb-making equipment.
The brothers used 11 mobile phones in five months in the run-up to the attack, the court heard, as well as two separate addresses in Manchester, one of which prosecutors said they used as a bomb factory.
Jurors were shown CCTV footage of Salman travelling to Manchester Arena before detonating his bombs on crowds leaving the concert on the evening of May 22.
Hashem was extradited to the UK last summer after being arrested by the authorities in north Africa.
His brother Salman was killed in the attack.
Following his arrest, Hashem tried to “point the finger of responsibility” at his dead brother, police said in a statement.
Prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said that was an attempt “to evade responsibility for his own culpability for the cruel and cowardly carnage that took place at the arena that night”.
The senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Barraclough, said after the verdict that Hashem was “every bit as responsible” for the deadly attack as his older brother.
“These two men are the real deal, these are proper jihadist,” he said.
“You do not walk into a space like the Manchester Arena and kill yourself with an enormous bomb like that, taking 22 innocent lives with you, if you are not a proper jihadist.”
A public inquiry into the bombing is due to begin in June.