The brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber was sentenced to at least 55 years in prison for his role in the May 2017 terror attack outside an Ariana Grande concert.
Hashem Abedi, the younger brother of suicide bomber Salman Abedi, was previously convicted of 22 counts of murder for helping to plan the bombing, including ordering and stockpiling the materials used to create the explosive device. Manchester-born Hashem fled to Libya prior to the attack but was extradited back to the U.K. to face trial.
Abedi refused to attend court for his sentencing and to hear victim statements from family members of some of the 22 people killed and hundreds more injured in the blast, the BBC reported.
“The stark reality is, these were atrocious crimes. Large in scale, deadly in intent, appalling in their consequences,” Justice Jeremy Baker said before handing down his sentence. “The despair and desolation of the bereaved families has been palpable.”
Baker added that although Abedi was “just as guilty” as his brother and deserved life in prison because Abedi was under 21 years old at the time of the attack, by law Baker could only give him a minimum 55-year sentence; at that point, Abedi could be considered for parole, but more likely Abedi “may never be released.”
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said of Abedi and his act of “pure evil”: “This attack on our city and everything it represents caused untold misery. But ultimately it failed. It was meant to divide us but it only brought us closer together.”
“The Manchester Arena attack was a horrifying and cowardly act of violence which targeted children and families,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted Thursday. “Today’s sentencing is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of tolerance, community and kindness — values which are fundamental to our country, and which we saw in Manchester in the face of unimaginable tragedy.”