Couple who fled to Pakistan after British girl's death say 'will cooperate'

Sara Sharif, 10, was found dead in Woking, southern England, on August 10 (-)
Sara Sharif, 10, was found dead in Woking, southern England, on August 10 (-)

The fugitive father and stepmother of a 10-year-old girl found dead at her home in Britain said Wednesday that they are prepared to cooperate with UK authorities, after they fled to Pakistan.

Sara Sharif was found dead in the southern UK town of Woking on August 10 and a post-mortem test revealed she had sustained "multiple and extensive injuries" over a sustained period, British police said.

Police believe Urfan Sharif, aged 41, his partner Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother Faisal Malik, 28, fled to Pakistan before the body was found to take refuge with family members there, sparking an international manhunt.

"Sara's death was an incident. Our family in Pakistan are severely affected by all that is going on," Batool said in a video shared with AFP by her relatives.

"My main concern is that Pakistani police will torture or kill us that is why we have gone into hiding.

"Lastly, we are willing to cooperate with UK authorities and fight our case in court," she said.

In the two-and-a-half-minute low-quality clip, Sharif remains silent while Batool reads from a notebook. Malik did not appear in the video clip.

"All of our family members have gone into hiding as everyone is scared for their safety," she said.

Urfan's father, Muhammad Sharif, told AFP that the couple stayed at the family's Kashmir home for two days when they arrived in Pakistan.

"The Pakistani police have been harassing us for the past three weeks," the 68-year-old told AFP by phone.

"If my son has committed any wrongdoing, his brothers shouldn't be punished for it," he added.

The family has approached the courts, seeking the release of relatives who were detained by Pakistani police.

In Pakistan, rights groups have long accused police of unlawfully detaining family members of suspects as a means to pressure them into surrendering to the authorities.

Pakistan and Britain do not have an extradition treaty but do sometimes deport wanted citizens on a case-by-case basis.

Surrey Police said it had been "made aware" of the video and described suggestions that the family may be willing to cooperate as "significant".

"We remain absolutely committed to conducting a thorough investigation into Sara's death," a statement read.

"Any co-operation from the people we want to speak to will assist the enquiry."

The force said the welfare of five children who travelled to Pakistan the day before Sara's body was found was "a priority" and it was liaising with British and international partners, including Interpol.