A terrorist convicted who allegedly “cared for” the man who attacked the Manchester Arena will refuse to ask questions if asked to testify in the public investigation into the attack.
Abdalraouf Abdallah, 28, did not answer questions from the investigation’s legal team while in prison, where he was serving a sentence for helping Isis fighters travel to Syria.
Chairman Sir John Saunders will decide next Wednesday whether he will be legally required to give a testimony.
Rajiv Menon QC, who represents Abdallah, said that if he was appointed, he “will not answer any questions unless given legal advice”.
At a hearing on Thursday, Mr. Menon added, “When forced, either in person or by it will serve no useful purpose, will only dehumanize and humiliate him and frustrate anyone else present who wants him to answer the questions. “
The lawyer referred to Abdallah’s privilege against self-incriminations and called it a “fundamental right in a democratic society”.
Abdallah’s representatives also argue that it is unreasonable to force him to testify as this would violate his human rights.
According to the investigation, Abdallah was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after fighting in Libya and had repeatedly injured himself in prison.
A psychiatrist hired by his legal team found that he was unable to testify and that he could risk further self-harm and attempted suicide.
Paul Greaney QC, adviser to the investigation, said Abdallah has knowledge of “high potential relevance in relation to the radicalization of Salman Abedi and the planning and preparation of the arena attack”.
“As of 2014, he was in contact with Salman Abedi both personally and electronically,” he added.
“He will also be supported by Dr. Matthew Wilkinson, the expert on radicalization commissioned with the investigation, is seen as responsible for bringing Salman Abedi, as he calls it, into the violent Islamist-extremist worldview. “
The investigation had previously heard that Abdallah, whose parents were also Libyan refugees, lived in the same area of Manchester as Abedi, attended the same school and shared many staff.
He was paralyzed in the fight against Muammar al-Gaddafi in the Libyan civil war and was imprisoned in 2016 for helping Isis fighters to travel to Syria.
Mr Greaney said Abedi and Abdallah had been in “regular telephone contact” as of 2014 and had “talked about martyrdom”.
Abedi traveled to HMP Belmarsh in London in 2015 to visit Abdallah while in custody and then visited Liverpool’s HMP Altcourse in January 2017.
The following month, officials at the private G4S prison found that Abdallah had an illegal cell phone on his cell phone that indicated calls to Abedi’s number.
Abdallah, who denies caring for Abedi or being involved in the arena attack, was licensed last November before being recalled in January – reportedly for violating a general condition, the good Behavior requires.
Mr Menon said the finding that Abdallah nursed Abedi and was “effectively a co-conspirator” in the bombing is an “absurd proposition that is at best speculated without adequate evidence”.
The lawyer said anti-terrorism police questioned his client under warning as a suspect in the arena attack and that prison investigators asked him “similar if not identical questions” over the past year.
Mr Menon said: “He felt himself under these circumstances and we are right to say that he was treated as a suspect by both the police and the investigation.”
Sir John Saunders said he would decide as soon as possible whether Abdallah should be forced to attend next Wednesday’s hearing and the investigation was postponed until Tuesday.
Additional reporting by PA