LONDON: The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber has been convicted after he failed to attend a public inquiry where he was ordered to deliver evidence, the BBC reported.
Ismail Abedi, 29, who is the elder brother of Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 at an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017, refused to answer questions to avoid incriminating himself.
Sir John Saunders, the inquiry’s chairman, has demanded that he attend the inquiry, but Abedi, who now uses the name Ben Romdhan, fled Britain last year and has not returned.
The order comes after Salman and Ismail’s younger brother, Hashem Abedi, was jailed two years ago after being convicted of murder for his part in the bombing.
Ismail has now been convicted of failing to comply with a legal notice to attend the Manchester Arena inquiry as a witness.
District Judge Jack McGarva said: “I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt he has no reasonable excuse for not attending,” and “he is guilty of the offense as charged.”
McGarva adjourned the hearing until Aug. 2, adding that an arrest warrant could be issued by international policing bodies if Ismail failed to attend.
Nicholas de la Poer QC, prosecuting, said: “I think we know what’s likely to happen.”
He added: “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.”
De la Poer continued: “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.”
A group of families related to victims of the bombing released a statement saying that Ismail is “unlikely to face any real justice until he is apprehended, if at all.”
It added: “Whilst we welcome the conviction of Ismail Abedi today, we remain sorely disappointed that the conviction had to take place in his absence.
“We remain gravely concerned as to how [Ismail] Abedi was able to leave the country before giving evidence to the inquiry in the first place.
“The families deserve to know the truth about what happened that night and the contempt Ismail Abedi has shown them is truly despicable.”
Ismail has attempted to avoid attending any inquiry due to the risk of self-incrimination, but he has been informed that the option to avoid self-incrimination is only offered on a question-by-question basis.
In August last year, he fled Britain after telling police officers that he would return in September. He has yet to return to the country.
De la Poer said: “As a person who lived with Salman Abedi during the period running up to the attack, and as his older brother, the defendant was uniquely well placed to provide an insight into understanding how Salman Abedi came to be radicalized.”