Manchester Arena Inquiry: Bombers friend refuses to appear as witness

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Bombers friend refuses to appear as witness

A friend of the Manchester Arena bomber is refusing to appear as a witness at the public inquiry into the attack.

Ahmed Taghdi, who was due to appear earlier, is citing health issues and concerns about possible questioning after hearing some of the evidence.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders is intending to enforce his requirement to attend, subject to any medical reports, the inquiry heard.

The issue has been adjourned and will be dealt with in the new year.

Mr Taghdi, from Manchester, was served with a notice to attend as a witness under the Inquiries Act 2005.

The legislation provides public inquiries with the power to “require a person to attend at a time and place stated in the notice”.

He was due to appear to be questioned about his relationship with the Abedi brothers, the inquiry heard.

During the inquiry’s opening in September, Mr Taghdi was described as a “close friend of Salman Abedi”.

The inquiry, which is sitting at Manchester Magistrates’ Court, heard Mr Taghdi, who was arrested during the police investigation, was present with Salman and Hashem Abedi when they purchased a car which the brothers used to store explosives.

He went to look at the Nissan Micra the day after the bombing and was in contact with other suspects that day, the inquiry was told.

Mr Taghdi was not charged with any offence and his statement was read during the trial of Hashem Abedi earlier this year.

The inquiry has previously heard Ismail Abedi, the elder brother of Salman and Hashem Abedi, is refusing to cooperate with the inquiry, as is a former terrorist prisoner called Abdalraouf Abdallah, who was close to Salman Abedi.

Both men have cited a claimed privilege against self-incrimination as a reason for not assisting.

Khalid Balaam, a friend of the Taghdi family, told the inquiry how he was “shocked” when he discovered Mr Taghdi was a contact of Salman Abedi.

Mr Balaam denied that he advised Mr Taghdi against contacting police in the aftermath of the attack – a claim made by Mr Taghdi in his police statement.

He also denied Mr Taghdi had told him about calling Salman Abedi in Libya, deleting text conversations with him or knowing anything about the Nissan Micra.

The inquiry, which could last until November, has now been adjourned until 11 January.

It is hoped the first inquiry report into the arena’s security arrangements will be published before 22 May next year, with two further interim reports to follow.

Leave a Reply