Kidnap couple jailed for 10 years for snatching Sahil Saeed
A married couple have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison for kidnapping a five-year-old British boy.
Muhammad Zahid Saleem, from Pakistan, and his Romanian wife Gianina Monica Neruja were found guilty of snatching Sahil Saeed by a court in Spain.
Sahil, from Oldham, was taken from his grandmother's home by four masked men armed with AK47 rifles during a family holiday to Pakistan in March 2010.
A third man was found not guilty of kidnap of a minor and conspiracySafe return
Khawaja Fawaaz Munawar - who was living in Spain illegally - allegedly shared a flat with the couple in Tarragona, north-east Spain. He was originally charged under the name Muhammad Sageiz.
Sahil - now seven - spent 13 days in captivity after being abducted from his grandmother's house at Jhelum in Pakistan's Punjab region.
After the verdict, Sahil's father Raja thanked Greater Manchester Police (GMP) for their "hard work and support".
End Quote Det Ch Insp Dave Pester Greater Manchester Police
This result will offer them further comfort after the conviction of a man in Pakistan last year”
He said his family were "very happy with the outcome in Spain", adding: "I would especially like to thank GMP for their hard work and support with the safe return of my son, Sahil.
"I would also like to thank my family for their support and to all the communities that came together to pray for Sahil's safe return."
The panel of three judges at the Provincial Court in Tarragona heard that Saleem and Neruja had made threatening calls to Sahil's family, after snatching the boy.
Giving evidence during the trail, Mr Saeed said the kidnappers threatened to put an explosive jacket on Sahil and "blow him to pieces".
The five-year-old was held in Pakistan and released after a £110,000 ransom was paid to Saleem and Neruja.
They requested the money was taken to Paris and delivered in two suitcases. The handover was made by Sahil's uncle Tauseer Ahmed, after visa problems prevented Mr Saeed from flying to France.
A specialist team of British and French police watched over Mr Ahmed during the operation.
Det Ch Insp Dave Pester from GMP said the investigation was "challenging", spanning many countries and different agencies.
"This result will offer them [Sahil's family] further comfort after the conviction of a man in Pakistan last year.
"Greater Manchester Police has been involved in a number of different roles, from offering support to the family, to assisting the police in Pakistan, to playing a significant role in the safe return home of Sahil, and sending officers to Spain to assist the prosecution.
He added the "valued relationship" with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) was pivotal.
Saleem was found not guilty of conspiracy, robbery in conjunction with a crime of trespassing and eight charges of unlawful arrest.
Neruja was also cleared of conspiracy.