The brother of Manchester Arena terrorist Salman Abedi is in police custody after being extradited from Libya to the UK to face court over his alleged role in the 2017 attack.
Hashem Abedi landed at an unspecified London airport on Wednesday, escorted by British police officers, after months of work to ensure his extradition from Tripoli.
Abedi fled the UK in the days before his older brother Salman carried out his suicide bombing as thousands of pop music fans left the Ariana Grande concert on May 22 2017.
Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: “The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) successfully applied for the extradition of Hashem Abedi from Libya and today he has been extradited for offences relating to the Manchester Arena attack.
“He was handed over by Libyan authorities to British police officers this morning.
“They escorted him on the flight back and they landed in the United Kingdom a short while ago.”
He said the CPS had previously authorised the charge of Hashem Abedi in respect of the murder of the 22 victims, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.
He remains in custody at a London police station and is expected to appear before magistrates as early as Thursday.
Welcoming the extradition, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This is clearly an important moment in the investigation. I hope it is a welcome step for the loved ones of all the victims.”
Security minister Ben Wallace said: ”I am pleased that the extradition of Hashem Abedi to the UK has been completed.
“It has been a huge effort by the police, Foreign Office and Home Office to ensure that the law can take its course.
“My thanks to the Libyan authorities for their support.
“Today my thoughts are with the victims of the Manchester Arena attacks and I can assure them that we will not rest until justice is done.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The extradition of Hashem Abedi is an important step forward in the investigation into the Manchester Arena attack. It’s important we now let the law take its full course.
“My thoughts remain with the victims and their families who have endured so much. I would also like to pay tribute to the continued efforts of the dedicated police officers and all others who have worked tirelessly on this case.”
The Libyan government had previously said they expected Abedi – a 22-year-old former university engineering student who was born in Manchester – to be returned before the end of last year.
The Tripoli government is currently seeking Western support as it battles forces loyal to Khalifa Hifter, a veteran Libyan general who launched an offensive against the capital in April.
The Special Deterrence Force, who confirmed Abedi was being extradited to the UK on Wednesday, is one of several militias loosely aligned with the government that are battling Hifter’s forces.
Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi and has become a haven for armed groups.
The time taken to return Abedi to the UK has meant the inquests into the deaths were delayed, with family members of the victims told that the full hearings were not likely to begin until April 2020 at the earliest.