Brother of Manchester suicide bomber appears in court, faces 22 murder charges

The brother of the suicide bomber who killed almost two dozen people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester two years ago appeared in court Thursday to face 22 charges of murder.

Hashem Abedi's lawyer, Zafar Ali, said his client denied the charges.

The 22-year-old is the younger brother of Salman Abedi, who blew himself up amid concertgoers at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017.

He was detained in Libya, his parents' homeland, soon after the attack and extradited to Britain on Wednesday.

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British police said Wednesday that Hashem Abedi, a key suspect in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people, has been arrested at a London airport after being extradited from Libya.

British police said Wednesday that Hashem Abedi, a key suspect in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people, has been arrested at a London airport after being extradited from Libya. (Force for Deterrence in Libya via AP)

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Abedi sat in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court as prosecutor Kathryn Selby said he was charged with 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder relating to the more than 260 people who were injured, and one count of conspiring to cause explosions.

He spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and British nationality during the 15-minute hearing. Abedi was ordered detained until a bail hearing on Monday.

Court artist sketch of Hashem Abedi in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court where he is appearing following his extradition from Libya, in London, Thursday July 18, 2019.

Court artist sketch of Hashem Abedi in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court where he is appearing following his extradition from Libya, in London, Thursday July 18, 2019. (Elizabeth Cook/PA via AP)

Authorities believe Abedi played a major role in planning the suicide bombing, the deadliest in a string of attacks in London and Manchester in 2017.

Ali said his client had been in solitary confinement while being held by the Tripoli-based Special Deterrence Force, a militia allied with a U.N.-recognized government in the Libyan capital.

Authorities believe Abedi played a major role in planning the suicide bombing at the arena (pictured that night), the deadliest in a string of attacks in London and Manchester in 2017.<br data-cke-eol="1">

Authorities believe Abedi played a major role in planning the suicide bombing at the arena (pictured that night), the deadliest in a string of attacks in London and Manchester in 2017.<br data-cke-eol="1"> (AFPGetty)

The lawyer said Abedi had been tortured and forced to sign a confession under duress. Ali said his client did not contest extradition because he wanted to return to Britain to clear his name.

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It is possible that Abedi's trial will reveal details of how the plot was planned and executed and what kind of support the suicide bomber received.