Monday, August 05, 2019

Manchester Arena bomber's brother, 22, is granted legal aid to fight his murder charges while families of the 22 victims continue to be denied cash

  • Hashem Abedi has been charged with 22 counts of murder over 2017 attack
  • His brother Salman killed carried out the attack by detonating suicide vest 
  • Hashem accused of helping buy chemicals and detonator for Manchester horror 
Hashem Abedi, 22, has been granted legal aid ahead of being tried for 22 counts of murder
Hashem Abedi, 22, has been granted legal aid ahead of being tried for 22 counts of murder
The brother of the Manchester Arena terrorist has been given legal aid - but his victims haven't. 
Hashem Abedi, 22, will be represented by state lawyers when he goes to trial accused of 22 counts of murder for each of the victims killed. 
But the families of the children and their parents murdered as they left the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017 have been denied taxpayer money to help their cases.
The shocking revelation was made at a pre-inquest hearing into the death of their loved ones, reports The Sun.  
In court in Manchester on Friday the victims' lawyer Paul Greaney QC told coroner Sir John Saunders: 'Bereaved families are experiencing difficulties in obtaining funding from the Legal Aid Agency.' 
It echoes the problems experienced by families of the London Bridge terror attack's victims, who were also denied state legal funding.
Brendan Cox, whose wife, Labour MP Jo, was killed by far-right extremist Thomas Mair, branded the decision 'twisted'.
He told the newspaper: 'This is a clear injustice. To deny survivors legal aid while you provide it for terror suspects is as unfair and twisted as it sounds. 
'Victims and survivors of terror attacks deserve so much better and it's time government listened to campaigners' demands for justice.'
Other hate figures who have been allowed legal aid include Lee Rigby's killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, extremist preacher Anjem Choudary and jihadi bride Shamima Begum. 
Families of the victims of Salman Abedi's suicide bomb have allegedly been told not to speak publicly about their ordeal ahead of the inquest, due to start in April. 
Hashem has already been represented by Zafar Ali QC and Richard Wright QC at two separate court appearances. 
His solicitors are Yasmin and Shaid, who are based in Leeds and have previously run up bills defending terrorists of more than £3million. 
Pictured: Suicide bomber Salman Abedi who killed 22 people in M
Pictured: Suicide bomber Salman Abedi who killed 22 people in M
The Ministry of Justice argues all defendants have the right to legal aid if they cannot afford lawyers in a criminal trial.
But the government department says bereaved families at inquest's do not have the same rights and therefore do not automatically qualify.  
A spokesman claimed they still could be granted funding ahead of the inquest in April.  
They told MailOnline: 'We understand how distressing the inquest process will be for the relatives of those who died in the Manchester Arena bombing and we're making changes to ensure there is more legal support for bereaved families.
'However, our review of legal aid showed that representation for bereaved families is not necessary for the vast majority of inquests – they are designed to establish the truth and learn lessons, rather than apportion blame in an adversarial way.
'Families are also given a special status at inquests which means they do not have to make legal arguments and can question witnesses themselves or request that coroners do so on their behalf.
'Without legal representation a defendant could have grounds to appeal and any conviction could be quashed.' 
Hashem Abedi, who is from Manchester but found in Libya, will go on trial at the Old Bailey on November 5 charged with 22 counts of murder - one for each of the attack's victims.
He is also accused of one count of attempted murder encompassing all the other victims and one count of conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.
Abedi is accused of making successful and unsuccessful attempts to buy bomb-making chemicals.
It is also said he assisted in buying a Nissan Micra to store device components and that he made detonator tubes for use in the explosive.
Hashem Abedi is pictured left in a court sketch in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on July 22
Hashem Abedi is pictured left in a court sketch in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on July 22 
The charges relate to the attack at the Ariana Grande concert on May 22 2017, which killed 22 people and injured 260, when Abedi's older brother Salman detonated his suicide vest as music fans left the show.
Abedi last week faced Oxford Crown Court by video-link from HMP Belmarsh in South-East London for a preliminary hearing before Mr Justice Sweeney.
The court heard that the judge has granted a prosecution application under section 22 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, which means Abedi will be interviewed by police even though he has already been charged.
Mark Dawson appeared for the prosecution while Richard Wright QC represented the defendant.
Mr Justice Sweeney said Mr Justice Jeremy Baker would preside over the trial and a plea and trial preparation hearing will take place on a date to be fixed in early October.
Abedi did not enter pleas to any of the charges he faced and was remanded into custody until the next hearing.
The defendant, who was raised in Manchester, travelled to Libya before his 22-year-old brother carried out the attack. He was arrested in Tripoli and was extradited to the UK earlier this month. 

No comments: