Elder brother of Manchester Arena bombers asks for immunity from prosecution
The elder brother of the Manchester Arena bombers has asked for immunity from prosecution in return for answering questions at the public inquiry into the terror attack.
Ismail Abedi wants a promise from the Attorney General that if he were to give evidence his answers will not, “land him in the dock”, his solicitor Jeremy Hawthorn told the hearing.
The legal application was made to Sir John Saunders, chairman of the inquiry, who is yet to make a ruling on whether he should consider making the application to the Attorney General in return for Abedi’s co-operation.
Images from devices recovered at Ismail Abedi’s home during a police raid the day after the bombing indicated he was “sympathetic to the ideals of Isis”, the inquiry has heard.
He was arrested, held for 14 days and interviewed by detectives 25 times but not charged with any offence.
Mr Abedi’s move is resisted by lawyers representing the families of the 22 murdered by his younger brothers, Salman, the suicide bomber, and his younger sibling and fellow bomb plotter, Hashem.
Peter Weatherby QC, representing some of the families, said: “If granted this would be an undertaking which would potentially protect a person from prosecution for a variety of offences, terrorism and other offences, including mass murder.”
Currently Ismail Abedi, who is married and lives in Manchester, is refusing to co-operate with the inquiry despite repeated requests.
The inquiry is soon to consider how his two younger brothers became radicalised and planned their deadly bomb plot.
He denies any knowledge or involvement in the bomb plot.
Mr Abedi has repeatedly refused to give a statement to the inquiry or give evidence in person, claiming his legal privilege not to incriminate himself.
But he is expected to be served with a legal notice which will “require the attendance” of Mr Abedi to give evidence in person at the inquiry sitting in Manchester.
He will be entitled not to answer questions on the grounds that it may incriminate himself, but he will have to justify why and on what grounds he is refusing to answer.
Ben De La Poer, counsel to the inquiry, who opposed the move, said any undertaking by the Attorney General, if granted, would not give “blanket immunity” from prosecution against all offences.
He said it is a “promise made by the state” that any answers given would not be used in a criminal prosecution.
He stressed it should not be suggested Mr Abedi is guilty of any offence.
Salman Abedi, 22, detonated a home-made shrapnel packed bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at the arena on May 22 2017, killing 22 bystanders, including Blackpool mum Jane Tweddle, and injuring hundreds more.
Hashem Abedi, was jailed in 2020 for a minimum of 55 years before parole for his part in the bomb plot.
The inquiry was adjourned until this morning.