Pre-inquest hearing into deaths of 22 Manchester Arena terror attack adjourned for criminal investigation

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A pre-inquest hearing into the deaths of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing has been adjourned until June next year.

During a brief 15-minute hearing, Nigel Meadows, senior coroner for Manchester said, due to the ongoing criminal investigation by police, further pre-hearings and the full inquest could not yet take place.

None of the family of the deceased or solicitors representing them attended on Friday at the coroner's court at Manchester Town Hall, and the hearing was adjourned until June 15 2018.

Mr Meadows said he had already written to the families of the 22 to say it was likely the inquests will be delayed.

He said it was a matter of public knowledge the police had named a suspect, Hashim Abedi, the brother of the suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, who was in custody in Libya and his extradition to the UK was being sought so he could face charges over the terror bombing on May 22.

Mr Meadows said, if he is returned to the UK, then inquest proceedings must by law be suspended pending a criminal trial.

He said, under these circumstances, it was not possible or practical to proceed with the inquest hearings.

An pre-inquest hearing into the death of Salman Abedi, scheduled for December 7, will, for the same reasons, be adjourned.

Mr Meadows added: "I have contacted the deceased's family to explain exactly that position."

He added: "It is obviously impossible for me to know when any final inquest hearing could possibly begin in all these circumstances.

"There's a very great deal of work to be done before that could possibly begin."

Abedi detonated the device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert with 353 people, including 175 children, around him in the foyer of the arena venue, police said earlier this month.

As well as the 22 dead, 16 people were very seriously injured including paralysis, loss of limbs, internal injuries, and very serious facial injuries involving complicated plastic surgery.

A total of 512 people were either physically injured or left profoundly traumatised with 112 treated in hospital.