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Manchester Arena terrorists’ brother supports jail sentence

The eldest brother of the two Manchester Arena terrorists has welcomed the judge’s decision to jail his surviving sibling for 55 years for plotting atrocity.

Ismali Abedi has spoken out about the attack orchestrated by his two younger brothers, Hashem and Salman, in 2017 which left 22 people dead.

He told SkyNews: ‘I’m glad this has happened, because I can put it all behind me, get on with my life and look after my family.

‘The past three years have been hell. I’ve lost two brothers and my family is ripped apart because of it.’

He later apologized for his brothers’ actions as he said: ‘I want to apologise on behalf of my family to the victims, for all the pain Hashem and Salman caused.’ 

His comments come after Hashem received a life sentence of at least 55 years in prison earlier this week after he refused to attend court.

But the mother of one of the Manchester Arena bomb victims has since blasted the jail term.

Charlotte Hodgson’s daughter Olivia, 15, died after Salman Abedi who detonated a suicide bomb in the foyer of Manchester Arena at 10.31pm on May 22 2017. 

Salman’s brother Hashem Abedi is expected to die in jail after yesterday being handed a record-length sentence for the Manchester Arena bomb plot.

Mrs Hodgson, appearing from Bury, Greater Manchester, on Good Morning Britain, was asked by presenter Alex Beresford if she thinks justice was served at the Old Bailey. 

She said: ‘No I don’t. I don’t see how just over two and a half years per person got killed is justice. I know he’s never going to get out of prison but its still not justice.’

Abedi refused to leave his jail cell to hear testimony in court and also didn’t turn up to his sentencing hearing, much to the chagrin of families.

Mrs Hodgson added: ‘For myself there has been no closure whatsoever as he wasn’t there. 

‘I didn’t get to see his face. He’s given us no answers, has shown no remorse, there is just nothingness.’

The couple, who said they struggled with their mental health during the coronavirus lockdown, found the evidence during the trial difficult to hear. 

Mrs Hodgson said: ‘It was extremely tough. It’s hard to describe how we are feeling and how we are coping with it. 

‘And I think it would have been even harder knowing he was listening to it and not bothered. Because as I’ve said he’s shown no remorse through all this. 

Paul Hodgson added: ‘I think the time factor between between convicted in March and coming to sentencing, it’s been a big long time and distance between it which is taken away from the actual impact.’

The heartbroken couple got married earlier this year, but are still coming to terms with their daughter’s death.

She said: ‘I don’t know how we try and have a life. We just literally are day by day still. THere’s still days I don’t want to get out of my bed. 

‘There’s still days I wish I wasn’t here. And as for keeping Olivia alive we’ll never forget her she’s just an unforgettable child, we talk about her all the time, we play her music. She’ll always be here.

On the upcoming inquest Mrs Hodgson said: ‘It does prolong the agony, but we are hoping to get some answers because its like we keep saying, we’re still not got an snswer of how this was allowed to happen.

‘Why it happened. Why wasn’t it stopped and that’s all we want, we want answers.’ 

Judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker ordered that Abedi serve 24 life sentences and said he would spend at least 55 years in prison before he could even be considered for parole.

Family members gasped as the sentence – a record for a determinate prison term – was handed down for Abedi’s role in the largest murder case in English legal history.

Abedi, born and raised in Manchester, was accused of showing ‘contempt’ to the families of those he and his suicide bomber brother Salman Abedi killed more than three years earlier by not coming into the dock.

He was again absent as the sentence was handed down, the judge ordering a copy of his remarks to be sent to the cells.

Sentencing him on Thursday afternoon, the judge said: ‘The defendant and his brother were equally culpable for the deaths and injuries caused.

‘The stark reality is that these were atrocious crimes, large in their scale, deadly in their intent, and appalling in their consequences.

‘The despair and desolation of the bereaved families has been palpable.’

The sentence eclipsed that of racist homophobe David Copeland, who was handed a 50-year term for a 13-day nail bombing campaign in London in 1999 which killed three and injured scores.

The judge – who put on record his tribute to ‘the tremendous dignity and courage’ of the families who attended court – said the 1,024 days Abedi spent remanded in custody will count towards the overall sentence, adding he was unable to hand him a whole-life term due to his age.

He added: ‘He may never be released.’

Reacting to the sentence, Paul Hett, father of victim Martyn Hett, said: ‘He’s now going to spend the rest of his life in jail, I’m sure because after the 55 years he was given, I’m sure the Parole Board which then has to make a decision, will ensure this coward never sees the light of day again.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the bombing ‘a horrifying and cowardly act of violence which targeted children and families,’ and praised the ‘courage and dignity’ of those affected.

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