"three people were arrested in connection with this investigation"
Father Urfan Sharif, along with his wife Beinash Batool and brother Faisal Malik, were arrested on Wednesday, September 13, 2023, on suspicion of murdering his 10-year-old daughter, Sara Sharif.
The arrest took place after they arrived from Pakistan at Gatwick Airport.
Police vans were filmed driving away after the arrest of Sara Sharif’s father, uncle, and stepmother.
The family, including her five siblings, fled the UK after Sara’s body was found in Woking, Surrey, in August 2023.
A post-mortem revealed Sara suffered severe and prolonged injuries.
Surrey Police Superintendent Mark Chapman confirmed their arrest at Gatwick Airport, emphasising the ongoing investigation’s complexity and the support provided to Sara’s birth mother. He said:
“This evening, around 7.45 pm, three people were arrested in connection with this investigation at Gatwick Airport.
“Two men, aged 41 years and 28 years, and a woman, aged 29 years, were arrested on suspicion of murder after disembarking a flight from Dubai.
“They are currently in custody and will be interviewed in due course.
“Sara’s mother has been informed of this latest update and is being supported by specialist officers. Our thoughts remain with her and those affected by Sara’s death at this very difficult time.
“This has been an extremely fast-moving, challenging and complex enquiry and we remain absolutely committed to conducting a thorough investigation into Sara’s death.”
Surrey Police had initiated an international manhunt for Sharif, Batool, and Malik.
Subsequently, after about a month, police in Jhelum, Pakistan, reported that Sharif and Batool were in hiding.
The police arrested ten of Sharif’s relatives for questioning on Saturday, September 9, 2023, but did not detain them in jail to avoid court proceedings.
Sara’s siblings, aged one to thirteen, were discovered at their grandfather’s home in Jhelum.
A Pakistani court ordered their care by child protection services while deciding on long-term custody.
Detective Superintendent Ghulam Abbas of Jhelum police reported that the children were presented to a Pakistani judge on Tuesday for secure custody arrangements. He said:
“The children are (now) being shifted to the Child Protection Centre… I cannot tell for how long they will stay there… the police will also accompany them.”
Sara’s post-mortem examination revealed extensive injuries, sending shockwaves through the local community. An international hunt began for her father and siblings who had fled to Pakistan.
Tim Oliver of Surrey County Council emphasised their top priority, saying:
“We are committed to the children’s welfare, collaborating with various agencies such as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Surrey Police, Interpol, and the National Crime Agency to ensure their immediate and long-term safety and well-being through ongoing legal procedures.”
Sara’s stepmother, Beinash Batool, while sitting alongside Urfan Sharif, in a recent public statement referred to Sara’s death as an “incident” and expressed willingness to cooperate with UK authorities.
Sara’s grandfather, Muhammad Sharif, believed his son fled the UK out of fear and expected their eventual return to face police questioning.