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Manchester bomber's brother admits Arena involvement

Hashem Abedi has, for the first time, admitted his involvement in planning the Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people.

The public inquiry into the terrorist attack has heard that 23-year-old Abedi, the brother of the suicide bomber Salman Abedi, made the admission in prison in October while being interviewed by two members of the legal team for the inquiry into the atrocity on 22 May 2017.

Abedi pleaded not guilty earlier this year to 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life. He did not give evidence at the Old Bailey but provided a pre-prepared defence statement in which he denied involvement, stating that he was a practising Muslim who did not hold extremist views.

In the statement, he added: “Had I any idea of it, I would have reported it to my mother initially and then to other family members to prevent it from happening. I was shocked my brother had done this and felt bad for everybody.”

Abedi was convicted by a jury of all the offences and was handed 24 life sentences in August, with a minimum of 55 years before he can be considered for parole.

However, when interviewed on 22 October, Abedi admitted he played 'a full and knowing part', the inquiry was told. Questioning temporary DCS Simon Barraclough, who was the senior investigating officer for Operation Manteline, the criminal investigation into the attack, Paul Greaney QC said: “On the 22 October of this year in prison serving his sentence, Hashem Abedi was interviewed by members of the inquiry legal team. During that interview, Hashem Abedi admitted that he had played a full part and a knowing part in the preparation for the arena attack.”

Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, 29, who was killed in the bombing, said: “Thinking back to that courtroom in August, it would have been more bearable for all of us if he told the truth then. We wanted to put that chapter behind us but focus our energies on the inquiry, which continues to be a gruelling and long process. We have to relive the pain and heartbreak and so it does not heal our grief but only the hope that a sense of justice will at least help to rebuild the lives of those this experience has affected.”

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