Angry relatives of the Manchester Arena victims fear they will never get justice due to “time-wasting” on the extradition of the killer’s brother.
A provisional start date for full inquests on the suicide bombing by Salman Abedi was set for April 6, 2020 – almost three years after the atrocity.
But a hearing was told this must wait until the criminal probe into his brother Hashem – a suspect who has been held in Libya since the horror – is complete.
One relative said jihadi bride Shamima Begum, who appeared to condone the bombing in an interview, could be more likely to set foot here before Hashem in “the biggest upset for the families”.
Salman, 22, killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.
Relatives gathered in Manchester yesterday hoping to hear when his brother will arrive but were only told the “extradition process is in progress”.
Steve Howe, who lost wife Alison, 45, in the blast, walked out. The 63-year-old said: “They did not give us any answers. There is no point sitting listening to nothing.”
Saying he feared Hashem, 21, would never face justice here, he added: “I don’t think the extradition will happen.
“We’d feel better if we knew where he was being held but they won’t answer that. We’ve had no information. They are beating about the bush with it. There is nothing worse than time-wasting.”
The hearing came after Begum said Abedi’s bombing was “justified”.
The 19-year-old left Britain aged 15 to join Islamic State. She is now in a refugee camp in Syria trying to return here.
Mr Howe, of Royton, Gtr Manchester, said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if she is back before Abedi. That would be the biggest upset for the families.”
Pete Weatherby QC, for the families of Mrs Howe and youngest victim Saffie-Rose Roussos, eight, told the Manchester town hall hearing: “The families ought to be presented with a greater level of factual detail.”
Jeremy Johnson QC, for Gtr Manchester Police, said the force was “sympathetic” but other authorities in the UK and Libya are also involved.
Another pre-inquest hearing will be held later this year.
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