Brother of Manchester bomber to deny murdering 22 victims of arena terror attack

The brother of Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi has indicated he will deny helping him to murder 22 people in the 2017 terror attack.

Hashem Abedi, 22, stood in the dock at Westminster Magistrates Court as the names of each fatality were read aloud.

His counsel, Zafar Ali QC said the defendant denied the charges against him. No formal pleas were entered during the 15-minute hearing.

Abedi, who was raised in Manchester, fled to Libya before his older brother detonated his suicide vest as pop fans left an Ariana Grande concert.

Manchester Arena bombing
Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi

Prosecutor Kathryn Selby told the court Abedi had been charged with 22 counts of murder – one for each victim of the attack – plus one count of attempted murder encompassing all other victims, and one count of conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.

The court heard 260 people were seriously injured, including those with life-changing injuries, following the blast.

At least 600 people reported psychological harm, the court was told.

Manchester Arena incident
People look at flowers and tributes left in St Ann’s Square in Manchester following the Manchester Arena terror attack.

Abedi, who was wearing a grey tracksuit and glasses and flanked by two police officers and three security guards, looked at the prosecutor as she outlined the case.

Mr Ali told the court Abedi had been in solitary confinement since his arrest in Libya two years ago, and had been tortured by the Special Deterrence Force in Tripoli, also known as Rada.

He said Abedi was forced to sign a 40-page confession under extreme duress.

Mr Ali said his client did not contest extradition because he wanted to return to the UK to clear his name.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot remanded him in custody ahead of a bail hearing at Oxford Crown Court on Monday.

There will be a preliminary hearing at the Old Bailey on July 30.

Inquests into the killings have been on hold while criminal proceedings against Abedi remained in limbo.

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