Members of Sara Sharif’s extended family are being questioned by Pakistani police over the 10-year-old’s death, while her father and his partner remain in hiding.
Sara’s father Urfan Sharif, 41, and his partner Beinash Batool, 29, fled the UK for Pakistan after Sara was found dead and alone at the family home in Woking, Surrey, in August .
Urfan’s father, Muhammad Sharif, as well as Urfan’s brothers and cousins were arrested, according to a police spokesperson in Jehlum, 170 kilometers northwest of Lahore.
The spokesperson said 10 close relatives had been taken into custody for questioning and an investigation was being opened.
Pakistani police often arrest relatives of wanted suspects. However, they are not kept in prison to avoid court intervention.
Sara was found at her home on August 10, hours after her father and stepmother booked urgent flights to Pakistan. Urfan then called 999 after arriving in the country.
An autopsy found she suffered “multiple and extensive injuries” over a “sustained and prolonged” period.
On Wednesday, Sara’s stepmother spoke publicly for the first time since the little girl was found dead.
In a clip of the footage published online by Sky, Batool showed no emotion as she described Sara’s death as “an incident” and said she and Sharif were ready to cooperate with British authorities over the matter.
Sharif and Batool left Britain with five children aged between one and 13, and Surrey Police want to question them over Sara’s death.
Muhammed Sharif said he had already told Urfan, his son, to hand himself in to authorities.
Sara’s mother, Olga Sharif, gave an interview to the Polish TV show Uwaga! in which she spoke about the heartbreaking experience of going to see her daughter’s body.
She said: “One of his cheeks was swollen and the other side was bruised.
“Even now, when I close my eyes, I can see what my baby looked like.”
Sharif separated from her husband in 2015 and Sara and her older brother lived with her until 2019, when the family court ruled that they should live with their father.
Sharif still had the same right to see the children and said that while this was easy to maintain initially, it became increasingly difficult over time.
Sara’s grandfather told the BBC that the girl’s death was an ‘accident’ and that three family members who left the UK for Pakistan will ‘eventually’ return to be questioned by police .
Muhammad Sharif said he saw Sara’s father shortly after he arrived in the town of Jhelum in the South Asian country and said his son had fled the UK out of “fear”.
Surrey Police are appealing for information to help them get an idea of Sara’s life.