Arena bomber's brother Abedi to face trial over 'no show' at Manchester Arena Inquiry
The older brother of Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi will go on trial over his failure to attend the public inquiry into the attack.
Ismail Abedi, also known as Ishmale Abedi and Ishmale Ben Romdhan, was ordered to give evidence to the hearings in October 2021, but flew out of the UK before the hearing.
A summons was then issued at the request of the inquiry's chairman Sir John Saunders after he failed to attend.
As a result Ismail Abedi was due before Manchester Magistrates Court on Friday 17 June - but he did not attend.
Lawyers for the inquiry, told the court an email had been sent to Abedi, representing a summons for him to appear at the court to face the charge of failing to comply with the court order to attend the inquiry.
District Judge Jack McGarva set a trial date of 14 July and said Abedi will be warned, via his email address, the trial will go ahead if he does not attend.
In a statement, the Public Inquiry said: "A summons has been issued to Mr Abedi by the Magistrates' Court for his failure to comply with a section 21 notice that required him to attend the Inquiry to give evidence on 21st October 2021.
"The summons was issued at the request of the Chairman."
In October 2021, Mr Abedi's lawyers issued a statement to the inquiry, in which they said he was unwilling to give evidence and the questions asked by the inquiry were "essentially the same as he was asked by the police".
He added that requiring him to attend the inquiry would place him and his family at risk.
He was described as a key witness for the inquiry, and was called to answer questions about the radicalisation of his younger brothers, Salman and Hashem, who carried out the bomb plot, murdering 22 bystanders and injuring hundreds more on May 22 2017.
Abedi also had potential evidence to give, the inquiry heard, on the preparation of the bomb, given his DNA was found on a hammer in a car used to store the explosives.
He had already been stopped in 2015 at Heathrow Airport and his phone was found to have a “significant” amount of “very disturbing” material described as of an “Islamic State-mindset” on it.
Abedi, who was arrested and questioned for two weeks after the bombing but never charged with any offence, was served with a court order to attend the inquiry on 21 October 2021.
He did not appear as a witness and the inquiry was told he is no longer in the country having boarded a flight from Manchester to Istanbul, claiming to be going on holiday, but had never returned.
Bereaved families labelled Ismail Abedi a “coward” for refusing to answer questions.
Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, said the public may infer Ismail “has something to hide” if he did not give evidence, but there was also “no indication” when he will return to the UK.
Under the law the prosecution have six months to start proceedings for the offence of failing to attend a public inquiry.
If proceedings had not started and Abedi did return to the UK after six months, he could not then have been prosecuted for failing to give evidence at the inquiry.
The 18-month-long public inquiry was established to investigate the deaths of the victims.
Salman Abedi was known to the security services and the inquiry also looked at his background and radicalisation, as well as the preventability of the attack.
Another brother, Hashem Abedi was jailed for life in August 2020 with a minimum 55 years before parole, for his part in the deadly bomb plot, which he has now admitted.