A convicted rapist from Rochdale who fled the UK during his trial has been arrested in Pakistan.
Choudhry Ikhalaq Hussain, 41, was one of 10 men sentenced in 2016 for committing sexual offences against a teenage girl in the town, but had previously absconded while on bail.
Hussain, formerly of Mayfield Terrace, was jailed in his absence for 19 years for rape, sexual activity with a child and conspiracy to rape, but remained at large until he was arrested on Saturday and will now face extradition.
His arrest in Saddar, Sangla Hill, followed a joint operation between the Federal Investigation Agency, the Punjab Police and the National Crime Agency, said Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
The central complainant in the case walked into a police station shortly after widespread media coverage of the 2012 convictions of nine Asian defendants for grooming white girls for sex in the town.
She told officers that from the age of 14 she had been repeatedly sexually groomed by a large number of men.
She also said “hundreds” of men would ring her up wanting her to go out and have sex with them.
The white victim was said to be an “extremely vulnerable young woman” who had endured “a very difficult home life”.
Seven other complainants, who were aged 13 to 22 at the time, also came forward to give evidence at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, which secured convictions against a number of the defendants, who were all of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage.
The investigation was part of GMP’s Operation Doublet, which looked into the sexual exploitation of teenage girls in Rochdale.
Detective Chief Inspector Jamie Daniels, senior investigating officer for the operation, said: “As with all offences of this nature, the victim is at the forefront of the investigation and we were determined to track down Hussain for her.
“We were never going to give up on finding him, no matter how much time passed or how far he travelled.
“I hope this sends a clear message to anyone who thinks they can flee the country in a bid to evade justice – you will be caught.
“I want to thank the Punjab Police, National Crime Agency and Federal Investigation Agency for their excellent work in apprehending Hussain.
“We will now await a decision by the courts to extradite him back to the UK.”
Thomas Drew, British High Commissioner for Pakistan, said: “The arrest of this individual, who has been convicted of sexual offences by a British court, is a significant achievement and another excellent example of UK-Pakistan co-operation in tackling international criminality and impunity.
“It sends a clear message that Pakistan is not a safe haven for international criminals.
“I would like to thank the Federal Investigation Agency and the Punjab Police for their professionalism and dedication in the execution of this operation.”