(London) Three members of the family of a 10-year-old girl found dead last month in the south of England were arrested on Wednesday for murder upon their arrival in the United Kingdom from Pakistan where they had fled.
The child’s father, Urfan Sharif, a 41-year-old Pakistani-British, his partner Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother Faisal Malik, 28, returned to British soil, which they had left rushed a little over a month ago.
“Two men, aged 41 and 28, and a 29-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of murder” upon their arrival at London’s Gatwick Airport, police announced, without explicitly confirming their identity.
The three members of Sarah Sharif’s family, whose face has constantly come up in recent weeks in the British media, had fled and found refuge with relatives in Pakistan the day before the discovery of the little girl’s body, triggering a hunt international.
He was found at his family’s home, in a village near Woking, a town in the south of England, after a call from his father from Pakistan.
The autopsy revealed she suffered “numerous injuries” over a long period of time.
” An accident ”
“We can confirm that the three suspects are on board a plane flying to the United Kingdom,” local police spokesperson in Pakistan, Mudassar Khan, told AFP on Wednesday.
“They left voluntarily and are on an Emirates flight departing from the Punjabi city of Sialkot,” Raja Haq Nawaz, the lawyer for Urfan Sharif’s father, assured AFP.
Last week, the couple said they were ready to collaborate with the British authorities.
“Sara’s death was an accident. Our family in Pakistan is very affected by everything that happened,” Beinash Batool said in a two-and-a-half minute amateur video sent to AFP by his family.
“We feared being tortured or killed by the Pakistani police, which is why we decided to hide,” she argued. “We are ultimately ready to cooperate with the British authorities and plead in court.”
Children in care
In these images, Urfan Sharif remained silent while his partner read the message.
Urfan’s father, Muhammad Sharif, 68, told AFP that the couple had stayed at the family’s home in Kashmir (north) for two days after arriving from the United Kingdom.
“The Pakistani police have not stopped harassing us for the past three weeks,” he told AFP.
Police in Surrey (southern England) described this video as “important”, adding that they would contact Interpol and British diplomacy to “determine the next steps”.
“We remain absolutely determined to conduct a thorough investigation into Sara’s death,” she insisted, ensuring that the fate of Sara Sharif’s five brothers and sisters is a “priority.”
Aged 1 to 13, the latter were the subject of a provisional placement decision by the Pakistani courts after being found alone in the house where the couple was hiding.
Olga Sharif, the child’s mother, told Polish television about the pain of losing her child and seeing her daughter’s lifeless body.
“One of his cheeks was swollen, the other had a bruise,” she described, “even now, when I close my eyes, I see what my baby looked like.”
The couple separated in 2015 and Sara and her older brother lived with her until the courts ruled in 2019 that they had to live with their father.