Sara Sharif’s family members arrested after landing at UK airport

Surrey Police are also working to secure the safe return of five of Sara's siblings

From left, Urfan Sharif, Beinash Batool and Faisal Malik. AFP / Surrey Police
Powered by automated translation

Three members of 10-year-old murder victim Sara Sharif's family have been arrested at Gatwick Airport on suspicion of killing her.

Sara's father, Urfan Sharif, his partner Beinash Batool and brother Faisal Malik travelled to Islamabad in Pakistan a day before police found the child's body in Woking on August 10.

The girl suffered “extensive injuries” over a “sustained and extended” time, a post mortem examination showed.

The three arrived at Gatwick airport just after 7.30pm on Wednesday on a flight from Sialkot, in eastern Punjab province, before police took them away for questioning in connection with Sara’s death.

“Two men, aged 41 years and 28 years, and a woman, aged 29 years, were arrested on suspicion of murder," Surrey Police said.

“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.

“We will not be commenting any further at this point and will provide further updates as and when we are able to.”

Sialkot police spokesman Khan Mudassir said the three had been handed over to the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency.

Five of Sara’s siblings, aged between one and 13 years old, travelled to the South Asian country on August 9 with Mr Sharif, Ms Batool and Mr Malik.

Surrey Police said on Tuesday officers are working to secure the safe return of the children after a court ruled they would be temporarily moved to a government childcare facility.

The children were taken from the home of Sara’s grandfather Muhammad Sharif in a police raid at his property in Jhelum, Pakistan, on Monday, before later being returned.

Witness accounts from the scene said officers broke security cameras at the property, stopped traffic and prevented passers-by from filming the incident.

The children were carried by family members into court for about 40 minutes on Tuesday before being moved to another court as authorities tried to decide on their next steps, the BBC reported.

Sara’s grandfather Mr Sharif told the BBC he had been hiding the children in his home, but he did not say for how long.

Last week, Sara’s stepmother Ms Batool spoke publicly for the first time since the girl's body was found.

In a clip of the footage posted online by Sky, Ms Batool described Sara’s death as “an incident” and said she and Mr Sharif were willing to co-operate with UK authorities over the case.

It came after Sara’s mother Olga Sharif told Polish TV programme Uwaga! of the harrowing experience of going to view her daughter’s body.

“One of her cheeks was swollen and the other side was bruised," she said. “Even now, when I close my eyes I can see what my baby looked like.”

Ms Sharif separated from her husband in 2015 and Sara and her older brother had been living with her until 2019, when the family court ruled they should live with their father.

She still had equal rights to see the children and said that while that was easy to maintain initially, it became harder over time.

Updated: September 15, 2023, 7:33 AM