Brother of man who bombed Ariana Grande concert is sentenced to 55 years
The brother of the suicide bomber who set off an explosion at a 2017 Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people and injured hundreds, was sentenced Thursday to a minimum of 55 years in prison.
Hashem Abedi, 23, had denied helping plan the May 22, 2017, attack at Manchester Arena but was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and conspiring to cause explosions. His sentencing had been postponed due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
His elder brother Salman Abedi, who set off the bomb, died in the attack at the end of the concert, as fans — including thousands of children and young people — were leaving the pop star’s show.
Hashem Abedi refused to appear in court for the two-day sentencing hearing, which featured powerful testimony from the families of the victims, many of whom fought back tears as they described their grief.
Judge Jeremy Baker said the two brothers were “equally culpable for the deaths and injuries caused by the explosion.”
“Although Salman Abedi was directly responsible, it was clear the defendant took an integral part in the planning,” Baker said.
The alleged culprit in a deadly concert bombing was driven by what he saw as unjust treatment of Arabs in Britain, a relative said Thursday, confirming he made a final phone call in which he pleaded: “Forgive me.”
The judge said that, had Hashem Abedi been over age 21 at the time of the explosion, he would have been given a life sentence without possibility of parole. Instead, he was sentenced to serve a minimum of 55 years before parole may be considered.
“The defendant should clearly understand the minimum term he should serve is 55 years,” Baker added. “He may never be released.”
He added that there was a “significant degree of premeditation” and that the motivation for the brothers was “to advance the ideology of Islamism.”
The brothers were born in Manchester to Libyan parents. They had traveled to Libya the month before the attack. Salman returned to Britain on May 18, 2017, when he finalized preparations for the attack. Hashem remained in Libya until he was extradited to Britain and arrested at a London airport last year.
Prosecutors said he played a key role in the attack, including ordering chemicals for the bomb and arranging transport for the materials.
The Manchester bombing was the deadliest in a string of extremist attacks in London and Manchester in the spring and summer of 2017. Targets in London included London Bridge, Westminster Bridge and a north London mosque.
Commenting on Thursday’s sentencing, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Manchester attack was a “horrifying and cowardly act of violence which targeted children and families.”
“Those who were taken from us will never be forgotten,” Johnson said, “nor will the spirit of the people of Manchester who came together to send a clear message to the entire world that terrorists will never prevail.”
Pop star Ariana Grande surprised young fans injured in the Manchester Arena attack, hugging the thrilled little girls in their hospital beds as they recovered from injuries sustained in the May 22 suicide bombing.
The youngest victim killed in the attack was 8 years old.
Caroline Curry, mother of Liam Curry, 19, held up a photo of her son in court Wednesday and addressed the empty space Abedi would have occupied if he had attended the hearing.
“You took his future, my future, my family’s future,” she said. “All we have now is heartbreak and dreams of ‘what if.’”
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.