Birmingham murder suspect finally back in UK two years after being caught in Pakistan

A murder suspect who fled to Pakistan four years ago has returned to the UK to stand trial accused of killing a Birmingham businessman.

Tahir Zarif, is accused of murdering Akhtar Javeed, right, in 2016
Tahir Zarif, is accused of murdering Akhtar Javeed, right, in 2016

Tahir Zarif is accused of shooting Akhtar Javeed during a botched robbery at his catering supplies business in Digbeth's Rea Street in February 2016.

An international manhunt was launched when Zarif - who is alleged to have shot Mr Javeed in the legs, throat and mouth - fled to Pakistan in the days after the murder and he was detained in Mirpur, Kashmir, in January 2018.

The 29-year-old was in custody in Pakistan for two years but his extradition has now been completed and he returned to the UK with West Midlands Police officers on Thursday night.

Zarif, of Osmaston Park Road, Derby, was due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court today.

Mr Javeed was shot dead while trying to escape the robbers

Three men have already been jailed for a combined 40 years for their part in the armed robbery but until now nobody has been prosecuted for Mr Javeed's murder.

The 56-year-old grandfather was killed after being asked to take a masked gunman to a safe during the robbery at Direct Source 3 Ltd.

Shot three times

A six-week trial in 2016 was shown distressing CCTV footage of Mr Javeed being gunned down at point-blank range as he tried to escape from his firm after being tied up.

Zarif was said to have travelled from Derby to raid the Digbeth warehouse with his then 26-year-old business partner Suraj Mistry and 19-year-old Lemar Wali.

The raid went horrifically wrong as they threatened Mr Javeed to give up the company's takings.

While Mistry held staff hostage at gunpoint Zarif led Mr Javeed from the office into the reception where he shot him in the leg as a violent warning to open the safe.

CCTV shows Zarif passing through Heathrow Airport on his way to Pakistan five days after the shooting

After being shot Mr Javeed attempted to escape and during the ensuing struggle was shot a further two times at point-blank range in the mouth and neck.

Bravely, he managed to escape before stumbling across the car park to the pavement where he collapsed and died in a pool of his own blood as the robbers fled back to Derby.

Mistry was acquitted of murdering Mr Javeed but jailed for 23 years after being convicted of manslaughter, conspiracy to rob and possession of firearms with intent to cause fear of violence.

Lemar Wali was cleared of murder, manslaughter and firearms charges but convicted of conspiracy to rob and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Sander van Aalten, a disgruntled former employee who provided inside knowledge to the gang, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and was jailed for six years and eight months.

Police forensic officers at the scene in Rea Street, Digbeth

West Midlands Police worked with the National Crime Agency, Crown Prosecution Service, Foreign Office, the British High Commission in Pakistan and the Pakistani authorities to pursue Zarif.

Detective Sergeant Ranj Sangha said: "Extradition has been a complex, drawn-out process but the man suspected of shooting Akhtar Javeed is now in our custody and this demonstrates the lengths we will go to pursue and arrest people from across the world if necessary.

“We made a vow to Mr Javeed ’s family to find the people responsible for his murder – I would like to thank them for their patience and understanding during the last three years.

“This is another significant development in our case and securing justice for Mr Javeed’s family and friends."

Richard Crowder, Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan, added: "This case is a further example of effective co-operation on law enforcement and justice between UK and Pakistan authorities – it’s enabled the return of a murder suspect to the UK.

“Tahir Zarif’s extradition has involved teams from the National Crime Agency, the British High Commission in Islamabad, the CPS, Home Office and Pakistan authorities in pursuit of justice for Akhtar Javeed."

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