Sara Sharif’s fugitive father and stepmother describe her death as ‘incident’ and vow to ‘fight our case in UK court’ as couple, seen in first video since fleeing to Pakistan, reveal they’ve ‘run out of food’ and are in hiding over ‘safety fears’
- Sara’s body was found at a property in Woking, Surrey, on August 10
In a remarkable video, Urfan Sharif and his partner Beinash Batool said they were willing to co-operate with British police and will ‘fight our case in court’, revealing how they have gone into hiding ‘as everyone is scared for their safety’.
The body of Sara, 10, was found at a house in Woking, Surrey, on August 10, with a post-mortem examination concluding she had suffered ‘multiple and extensive injuries’ over a ‘sustained and extended’ period of time.
Police were called to the property by Mr Sharif from Pakistan, who had flown to South Asia with Ms Batool and other members of the family.
Showing no emotion as she addresses the tragedy for the first time, Ms Batool described Sara’s death as ‘an incident’ but failed to provide any more details.
She spoke of how food was running out for the children staying with them because they are unable to venture outside.
The conditions under which the video was filmed or its location are not clear. Sky News correspondent Sabah Choudhry said it was shared with her late last night.
It came just hours after Sara’s mother Olga appeared on Polish television, where she accused the couple of turning her daughter against her.
Ms Batool says in the video: ‘Firstly I would like to talk about Sara. Sara’s death was an incident. Our family in Pakistan is severely affected by all that is going on.
‘All the media have been given wrong statements…Imran [one of Mr Sharif’s brothers] did not give a statement that Sara fell down the stairs and broke her neck. This was spread through a Pakistani media outlet.
‘All of our family members have gone into hiding as everyone is scared for their safety. The kids are unable to attend school as they are afraid to leave the house. No one is leaving the house.
‘The groceries have run out and there is no food for the kids as the adults are unable to leave their homes out of fear of safety. That is why we have gone into hiding.
‘Lastly, we are willing to cooperate with the UK authorities and fight our case in court.’
Mr Sharif does not speak in the video.
It comes after Sara’s mother Olga told the Polish television programme Uwaga! on the TVN Channel that Ms Batool tried to stop her seeing her two children, one of whom is believed to be in Pakistan.
‘Their stepmother wrote to me not to come anymore because the children did not want to see me,’ she said.
‘It’s not normal that once the children were happy, and arguing about who would talk to Mum first, and then the kids don’t even want to talk to me on the phone and are calling me the worst names.’
Olga also spoke in the interview of having to identify her daughter’s body at the mortuary, saying she hardly recognised her because of her injuries.
‘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 said she had 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.
Ms Sharif still had equal rights to see the children and said while that was easy to maintain initially it became increasingly harder over time.
Mr Sharif, 41, Ms Batool, 29, and his brother, Faisal Malik, 28, are thought to have travelled to Islamabad on August 9 and are wanted by police for questioning.
They travelled with five children aged between one and 13 years old, Surrey Police said – the eldest of which is Ms Sharif’s son.
Sara’s uncle said last month that his niece had fallen down the stairs and broken her neck – claims that were dismissed by Ms Batool today.
Imran Sharif is said to be assisting the hunt for his brother, Sara’s father, after it was reported police in Pakistan are under ‘tremendous pressure’ from the British High Commission to find him.
He allegedly told officers: ‘Beinash was home with the children. Sara fell down the stairs and broke her neck. Beinash panicked and phoned Urfan.’
Imran denied knowing where Urfan and his family were, police in the city of Jhelum in Pakistan’s Punjab province said.
He reportedly told officers: ‘I found out what happened to Sara through the international media. My parents told me Urfan briefly came home very upset. He kept saying, “They’ are going to take his children away from him.”‘
Police said they have detained Mr Sharif’s brother because they are ‘convinced’ that he knows where the family is hiding.
It has also been claimed that Mr Sharif’s parents along with other relatives, who live in a large house in Jhelum, have also now gone into hiding.
Ms Batool’s family home in Mirpur has also been searched, but with no sign of the family.
A police source said: ‘We spoke to Imran and some of the family members last week and they insisted that they did not know where Urfan and his family are.
‘But we don’t believe them, there’s absolutely no way that they can’t know where eight of their relatives who have come from England are. They are telling us a pack of lies.’
They added: ‘We managed to get hold of Imran, but the rest of his family have gone missing. They clearly have something to hide. We have got hold of one of them and will be interrogating him until he tells us the truth.’
Meanwhile, Sara’s grandfather previously told the BBC that her death was an ‘accident’ and three family members who left the UK for Pakistan will ‘ultimately’ return to face police questioning.
Muhammad Sharif said he saw his son Urfan Sharif, Sara’s father, soon after he arrived in the city of Jhelum, in the South Asian country, and said he had fled the UK out of ‘fear’.
Surrey Police are appealing for information to help them piece together a picture of Sara’s lifestyle prior to her death.
Surrey County Council previously said that Sara was known to the local authority.
Authorities in Pakistan are searching for the trio and lawyers in the UK have said the nation’s government is unlikely to block an extradition request in connection to Sara’s death.
There is no formal extradition treaty between the UK and Pakistan but people have been returned from the Asian country before.
It comes as Sara’s grandfather said this week that his son, the girl’s father, had nold him the death was an ‘accident’ and that he left the UK out of fear.
Muhammad Sharif told BBC News: ‘His daughter died and when you go under so much trauma, obviously you can’t think properly.’
He said he saw Urfan after he arrived in Pakistan, adding: ‘It was an accident, he didn’t tell me how it happened.
‘All I can say is that they should have faced the case, they should have stayed there and faced it instead (of coming to Pakistan). They will ultimately go back to the UK and face their case.’
It also emerged over the weekend that Urfan contacted a friend who owned a money transfer shop to get eight last-minute plane tickets before he and his family left the country.
The 41-year-old told Nadeem Riaz on August 8 he urgently needed the one way tickets due to the death of a cousin and wanted to fly out to Islamabad as soon as possible.
The next day Sharif, his partner Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother Faisal Malik, 28, left the UK on a British Airways flight with five of the couple’s children, aged between one and 13.
Sara was left behind. She was already dead.
After arriving in Pakistan Sharif phoned 999 and informed police they would find the body of his oldest daughter at their address in Horsell.
She was discovered with ‘multiple and extensive’ injuries which are believed to have occurred over a ‘sustained and extended’ period of time.
Mr Riaz told the Times he had often had business with Sharif before, who would frequently end money to one of his brothers, Imran, in Pakistan.
His shop doubled as a travel agency, and he had previously secured flights for the family after the death of Sharif’s mother last November.
He said: ‘[Sharif] sounded normal. No different to his usual self.’
After the call, Mr Riaz sent a message to Sharif and asked him what kind of tickets he wanted. Sharif is said to have responded: ‘One way.’
The shop owner, who has known Sharif for 11 years, is said to be assisting police with their enquiries into Sara’s death.
He told the paper: ‘For the first few days after it happened, every time I looked at my own daughter I felt so sad for Sara.
‘I love my daughter [who is six] so much. How could anyone leave their daughter?’
The international manhunt for the family is still underway, as Pakistan police this week claimed they were not asked to look for the relatives until five days after her body was discovered.
Sara’s family were known to both the police and local council, it was revealed at the weekend.
But police have not referred themselves to the IOPC, saying their knowledge of the family was ‘historic’ and that the case did not meet the threshold to do so.
Surrey County Council has said they are ‘working tirelessly’ to fully understand the consequences that led to Sara’s death – and have now revealed the girl was known to them before her death.
A spokeswoman told MailOnline: ‘We can confirm Sara Sharif was known to Surrey County Council but we cannot comment further while the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership’s thorough review process is ongoing.’
On Friday council leader Tim Oliver said: ‘This is an incredibly sad situation and our thoughts and deepest condolences are with everyone affected.’
He said the national Child Safeguarding panel has been notified of the death and a multi-agency rapid review is under way, in line with standard process following the death of a child.
He explained: ‘This rapid review will determine whether a local child safeguarding practice review (LCSPR) is to be undertaken by the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership.
‘An LCSPR is a statutory process, bringing together partners including the police, health, social care and education to review practice of all agencies involved, organisational structures and learning.’
The full interview with Ms Sharif will air on the Polish TV programme at 7.55pm local time on Wednesday.