Manchester

Manchester Arena attack: Police investigation delays inquests

Top (left to right): Lisa Lees, Alison Howe, Georgina Callender, Kelly Brewster, John Atkinson, Jane Tweddle, Marcin Klis - Middle (left to right): Angelika Klis, Courtney Boyle, Saffie Roussos, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, Martyn Hett, Michelle Kiss, Philip Tron, Elaine McIver - Bottom (left to right): Eilidh MacLeod, Wendy Fawell, Chloe Rutherford, Liam Allen-Curry, Sorrell Leczkowski, Megan Hurley, Nell Jones
Image caption Top (left to right): Lisa Lees, Alison Howe, Georgina Callender, Kelly Brewster, John Atkinson, Jane Tweddle, Marcin Klis - Middle (left to right): Angelika Klis, Courtney Boyle, Saffie Roussos, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, Martyn Hett, Michelle Kiss, Philip Tron, Elaine McIver - Bottom (left to right): Eilidh MacLeod, Wendy Fawell, Chloe Rutherford, Liam Allen-Curry, Sorrell Leczkowski, Megan Hurley, Nell Jones

Inquests into the deaths of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing will be delayed pending a criminal investigation, a coroner has said.

The delay comes after Greater Manchester Police said it was seeking to extradite Hashem Abedi from Libya.

He is the brother of Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed the 22 and injured 512 at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on 22 May.

Coroner Nigel Meadows adjourned the inquests until 15 June.

None of the family of the deceased attended the 15-minute hearing at the coroner's court at Manchester Town Hall.

Mr Meadows revealed he had already written to the families of the 22 to indicate the inquests would be delayed.

He pointed out that if Hashem Abedi was extradited to the UK from Libya then by law inquest proceedings must be suspended pending a criminal trial.

GMP issued a warrant for his arrest last month, in relation to murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Image copyright Libyan Interior Ministry
Image caption Libya's interior ministry issued this photo of Hashem Abedi in May

A pre-inquest hearing into the death of Salman Abedi, which was scheduled for 7 December, was also adjourned for the same reason.

Mr Meadows told the court: "It is obviously impossible for me to know when any final inquest hearing could possibly begin in all these circumstances.

"There's a very great deal of work to be done before that could possibly begin."

Both Abedi brothers had travelled to Libya in April, before Salman returned to carry out the attack.

Image caption Salman Abedi was born in Manchester on New Year's Eve 1994

Hashem Abedi, then aged 20, was arrested in Tripoli by members of the Rada Special Deterrence Force a day after the bombing.

The militia, who are still holding him, have revealed that they are "ready to co-operate" with the UK's request to extradite him.

A total of 353 people, including 175 children, were near the bomber when he detonated his device in the foyer of the concert venue.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Images released by police showed Salman Abedi on CCTV in Manchester

The police said 112 people needed hospital treatment after the attack with 16 suffering very serious injuries including paralysis, loss of limbs, internal injuries and facial injuries.

Two people remain in hospital more than six months later.

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