Police say there is “clear evidence” to charge the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber if he is extradited from Libya.
Hashem Abedi is the younger sibling of Salman Abedi, the Briton born to Libyan parents who blew himself up at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande last year, killing 22 people.
It was the deadliest militant attack in Britain for 12 years and his victims included seven children. More than 500 people were left injured, many seriously.
On Wednesday Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told BBC Radio Manchester that extradition proceedings against Abedi had begun.
Speaking of the wave of arrests made after the attack last October, he said: “We did make a number of arrests, we were very clear about that.
“There hasn’t been the evidence to charge those individuals but there is clearly evidence to charge [Abedi] which is why the CPS issued the warrant and has started extradition proceedings.
“He is detained in Libya and he has to go through their legal system.”
An arrest warrant for Abedi was issued in November and UK authorities requested his extradition from Libya, where he was when the attack occurred.
Hopkins said: “We have applied for, and been granted, a warrant of arrest for Hashem Abedi. The warrant was issued by a Manchester court to produce Hashem Abedi at Westminster Magistrates Court, which is standard procedure in terrorism and extradition cases.
“It is because of this that it is really difficult to provide any further detail. Firstly, we must respect the Libyan legal process and we are very grateful to them for considering our request.
“Secondly, it is vital that the court process is respected in this country and especially the right to a fair trial. It is because of this that we cannot comment on any specific detail of the case. When we can say more, we will of course do so.”
Last month it was revealed both brothers were rescued from the civil war in Libya by the Royal Navy three years before the bombing.
It is understood their names were on a list of stranded citizens handed to the crew in charge of the evacuation.
The vessel took them to Malta, where they caught a flight back to the UK.