Boris Johnson praises ‘remarkable courage’ of Manchester Arena families as bomber’s brother jailed for at least 55 years
Mourners viewing tributes in St Ann's Square a week after the Manchester Arena terror attack. (PA)
Boris Johnson has paid tribute to the “remarkable courage and dignity” shown by those who lost loved ones in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing as the killer’s brother was jailed for at least 55 years.
The Prime Minister said the sentencing of Hashem Abedi, who was found guilty of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and conspiring to cause explosions, showed the need for the values of “tolerance, community and kindness”.
The 23-year-old was on Thursday handed 24 life sentences for organising the 2017 arena bomb plot, which left 22 people dead and injured hundreds of others.
The 55-year minimum term means he is likely to die in jail, and cannot be considered for parole until the 2070s.
Abedi, who dismissed his legal team during the trial, refused to leave his cell as the sentence was handed down.
He did not appear in court earlier this week when the testimony of victims’ families was read out.
Sentencing him at the Old Bailey on Thursday afternoon, the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, said: "Although Salman Abedi was directly responsible, it was clear the defendant took an integral part in the planning."
He added: "The motivation for them was to advance the ideology of Islamism, a matter distinct to and abhorrent to the vast majority for those who follow the Islamic faith.
"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."
Speaking after the sentence was passed, Mr Johnson said: “The Manchester Arena attack was a horrifying and cowardly act of violence which targeted children and families.
“Those who were taken from us will never be forgotten, nor will the spirit of the people of Manchester who came together to send a clear message to the entire world that terrorists will never prevail.
“My thoughts remain with the survivors, and with the friends and families of victims, who have shown remarkable courage and dignity.”
And he added: “I would also like to express my thanks to the police and all those who have worked tirelessly to deliver justice for the families.
“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.”
Greater Manchester’s Labour mayor Andy Burnham said the arena attack “was an act of pure evil”.
And he said: “Today we think first of the families who lost loved-ones and everyone whose lives were changed forever by this appalling crime.
"We know today will be yet another difficult day for them and we will continue to support them in any we can, but we hope the fact that someone has at last been held accountable will bring a degree of comfort and resolution.”
The mayor added: “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. And now one of those responsible is behind bars.
“So today is a day when our city and its people can take another step forward on the road to recovery from May 2017 and mark an important victory in the fight against hate, violence and terrorism.”
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