Inmate accused of attacking officer claims to be ‘treated differently’

Inmate accused of attacking officer claims to be ‘treated differently’
Hashem Abedi, 24, is one of three prisoners on trial accused of attacking Paul Edwards, 57, at HMP Belmarsh on May 11 2020.

An inmate on trial for allegedly attacking a prison officer has complained about not being “treated like other prisoners”.

Hashem Abedi, 24, is one of three prisoners accused of attacking Paul Edwards, 57, at HMP Belmarsh on May 11 2020.

Mr Edwards, a custodian manager, said he feared for his life when he was allegedly hit with a chair and repeatedly punched and kicked in his office by Abedi, Ahmed Hassan, 22, and Muhammed Saeed, 23.

I don’t think we get treated like other prisoners

Hashem Abedi

The defendants deny the charges but declined to give evidence after the prosecution closed its case last week.

Abedi, who is defending himself, delivered a closing speech to Woolwich Crown Court on Monday.

The 24-year-old said he was “not here to complain” but the court had not heard “what was going on” in the prison before May 11.

He said: “I don’t think we get treated like other prisoners.”

Abedi’s comments came after he told prison governor Angela Gissing that “he and his brothers wanted the regime changed” and complained that “non-Muslim prisoners” – also on “basic” status incentive and earned privileges (IEP) – are treated differently, the court was told.

In her closing speech, prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said on Monday: “The defendants had no other reason to visit Mr Edwards’ office other than to assault him.

“They went in there with the expressed intention of beating him up and that is what they did.”

Abedi admitted his guilt at Westminster Magistrates’ Court – despite pleading not guilty – because he said he “did assault that filthy pig but I don’t see any harm in doing that”, Ms Wass argued.

She added: “Mr Edwards is not a filthy pig. He is a prison officer who has worked for the prison service for most of his adult life.”

She also told the court Abedi was the “ringleader” in the plan to “savagely attack” the prison officer.

Woolwich Crown Court previously heard Mr Edwards, who had worked at Belmarsh for 25 years, was responsible for removing privileges from Abedi and Hassan after they shaved their heads.

Benjamin Squirrell, representing Hassan, and Sebastian Winnett, representing Saeed, both argued in closing speeches that evidence of the actual attack only comes from witnesses, which is not “neutral”, and that the prosecution case is “insufficient”.

Mr Edwards said he believed Abedi to be the “amir” or “leader”, who had orchestrated complaints about the regime inside the high security unit, known as a “prison within a prison”.

CCTV footage played to the jury shows Abedi and Hassan, with a black and white hat and dark clothing, being escorted to the prison exercise yard, returning about half an hour later with Saeed, who has long hair tied in a ponytail.

Abedi, wearing a blue Adidas tracksuit, white cap and glasses, is seen smiling before the three defendants run towards Mr Edwards’ office, closely followed by prison officers.

All three defendants are charged with assault causing actual bodily harm to Mr Edwards.

Abedi is also charged with assault by beating of an emergency worker – a second prison officer Nick Barnett – who was allegedly kicked.

The jury was sent out on Monday afternoon.

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