Lahore, UK Courts tussle over siblings custody

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Courts in the United Kingdom and Lahore are “involved in a complex legal tussle” to decide what should happen to the siblings of Sara Sharif, whose death sparked an international manhunt, BBC reported.

Sara Sharif’s body was discovered at her home in Woking, southern England, on August 10. A post-mortem examination found she had sustained “multiple and extensive injuries” over a long period.

The day before Sara’s body was found, her father, 41-year-old Urfan Sharif, her step-mother Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother Faisal Malik, 28, had left the UK for Pakistan with five other children. They were arrested in September after disembarking from a flight from Dubai and pleaded not guilty. The trial is expected to start in September 2024 and it is expected to last six weeks.

According to a BBC report, a series of hearings have been held in the Family Division of the London High Court since Sara’s death over the custody of her sibling.

Subsequently, the Surrey County Council wrote an application to the Lahore High Court seeking to secure the children’s return to Britain.

“The court processes in Pakistan and London are ongoing, and at the moment the children remain in Pakistan,” the BBC report said. It added that there was a restriction on reporting the case due to the ongoing legal process but it was later lifted.

Earlier, Sarah’s siblings, who were initially staying at their grandfather’s house in Jhelum, were placed in the custody of the Child Protection Bureau. Their grandfather, Muhammad Sharif, then began fighting to gain full custody of the children through courts.

On Oct 19, the LHC gave the children’s interim custody to their grandfather. The case has been heard several times since then and for now, the children remain with Muhammad Sharif.

The case to decide their permanent custody is still pending, the BBC report added.

Acknowledgement: BBC/DAWN

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