18:56 GMT +315 November 2019
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    Hashem Abedi, the brother of Manchester attack bomber, is seen in this handout photo provided by Libyan Special Deterrence Force on May 25, 2017

    Manchester Bomber's Brother to Receive Legal Aid While Victims’ Families Denied Support

    © REUTERS / Special Deterrence Force/Libyan Interior Ministry
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    In 2017, a terrorist attacked the Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert, which led to the deaths of 22 people, including children. The brother of the attacker was extradited back to the UK from Libya in 2017 to face trial for being complicit in the crime.

    It has been confirmed that the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber will be granted legal aid in his trial for murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy, which the victims have so far not received, as reported by The Sun.

    22-year-old Hashem Abedi will have state-funded representation at his trial, where he will face accusations of 22 counts of murder.

    Hashem's older brother, Salman, launched a suicide attack on an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in 2017, which led to the deaths 22 children and adults.

    It was revealed last week in a pre-inquest hearing in Manchester for the victims of the Manchester Attack that they had received zero legal aid or state support. 

    "Lawyers representing the families of the Manchester Arena attack victims have 'embarrassing' evidence highlighting the 'shortcomings' of the security services", the BBC reported.

    Coroner Sir John Saunders, who is overseeing the inquest, was also told directly by Paul Greaney QC that "Bereaved families are experiencing difficulties in obtaining funding from the Legal Aid Agency".

    Brendon Cox, the husband of Jo Cox, a Labour MP who was murdered by terrorist Thomas Mair while campaigning in the 2016 EU referendum, came to the defence of the victims' families.

    Speaking to The Sun, he called the situation "a clear injustice" and "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".

    The disparity of support between Abedi and the victims has its roots in UK law, however.

    In March 2019, the Ministry of Justice published a report regarding the availability of legal aid, confirming that legal aid is not given to those who require representation at inquests unless not doing so was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

    The granting of legal aid to extremists and perpetrators of terrorism while their victims do not receive such is not unique to Manchester.

    The victims of the 2017 London Bridge Terror attack were also denied state support. While the murderers of British soldier Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, received legal aid, as did Islam4UK extremist preacher Anjem Choudary, and now-stateless Daesh bride Shamima Begum. 

    Alongside the 22 counts of murder, Hashem Abedi is accused of conspiring with his brother to organise the suicide attack.

    He is also facing accusations of both successful and unsuccessful attempts to purchase chemicals for the creation of bombs, detonator tubes, as well as assisting in buying a Nissan Micra to store bomb parts.

    Consistent With Foreign Policy Mistakes?

    While British citizens, Hashem and Salman have Libyan family and fought in the Libyan Civil War for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) upon the eruption of the conflict against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

    The brothers were referred to as "the Manchester Boys" amongst compatriots in Libya.

    It became government policy under then Home Secretary Theresa May to encourage the movement of LIFG throughout Europe in an effort by the Cameron government to support the opposition to Gaddafi.

    The brothers were later rescued in 2014 by the Royal Navy and returned to the UK.

    The FBI apparently warned MI5 that the LIFG were a "terror risk" and placed the boys on a terror watch list, according to The Independent.

    Hasham returned to Libya shortly before his brother launched the attack and was arrested and extradited to the UK by Libyan authorities in November 2017.




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