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MANCHESTER ARENA AND PARSONS GREEN TERRORISTS REFUSE TO ATTEND COURT

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Manchester Arena plotter Hashem Abedi and Parsons Green Tube bomber Ahmed Hassan have been told they may be “forced” to attend court after refusing to leave their jail cells

They both face a charge of attacking a prison officer.

Abedi, 23, and Hassan, 21, are accused alongside another suspect, Muhammed Saeed, 23, of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on Paul Edwards at HMP Belmarsh on May 11 last year.

But neither Abedi nor Hassan appeared via video link from the category A HMP Frankland in County Durham for the hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday morning.

Asked by District Judge Tan Ikram whether Abedi and Hassan were “refusing to attend” the hearing, an unnamed Frankland prison officer replied: “They’re refusing to come down to this location, they are in their cells on the wings.”

He added: “They’ve not made any formal representation, they just insisted they’re not going to attend in any shape or form, sir.”

The district judge relisted the hearing for Thursday, the day Abedi turns 24, for pleas to be heard, unless the matter gets moved straight to the crown court at a later date, at the request of the prosecution.

He told the prison officer: “I’m not sure if you will get the opportunity to speak to the two defendants.

“But if you are (speaking to them), they are advised to attend – one of the powers the court has is the use of force.”

Saeed, originally from Old Trafford in Manchester and currently awaiting sentence for another matter, appeared via video link from the category A HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire wearing a red jumper.

He spoke to confirm his identity and to enter a not guilty plea. He was further remanded in court until May 5.

Outlining the case, prosecutor Nicholas Alexander alleged the three defendants were out of their cells on May 11 last year when they entered an office and assaulted Mr Edwards as he sat at a desk.

Mr Edwards received cuts to his head and bruising, and was also kicked.

He has ongoing hearing problems as a result of the attack, the court heard.

The district judge provisionally relisted the hearing for Abedi and Hassan to be produced, again via video link, on Thursday, unless the prosecution elects to “circumvent” the hearing.

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Written by: Gabriel Ciniglio

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