Kozhikode: Twenty-five years after he fled to the UAE, a key accused in the 1995 murder of a Muslim League worker in Kerala has landed in the police net in Kozhikode when he arrived by a chartered flight carrying evacuees from Sharjah.

Shafeek Malangadan, nephew of Nilambur independent MLA PV Anwar, was arrested on Wednesday (June 24) after immigration officials at the international airport identified him based on a pending lookout notice, police said.

The man, now 50, had escaped to the Gulf soon after the brutal killing of Othayi Manaf Palliparamban on April 13, 1995, in a fallout of a family feud and been absconding since then, they said.

Anwar was also among the accused in the case but had been exonerated along with 21 others by the trial court. An appeal against the acquittal filed by Manaf's brother is pending in the Kerala high court.

In all, there were 26 accused, including Shafeek and his brother Sherif who also remained absconding along with two others. After the high court ordered police to issue a lookout notice against them, the three surrendered before the court and were arrested.

Airport sources said Shafeek was hopeful of sneaking out under the shadow of evacuation as part of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the immigration officials were alert enough to identify him when he landed on Tuesday night. He was later handed over to the Edavanna police, where the murder case has been registered, they said.

Shafeek was produced before a Magistrate court which remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days. After the three surrendered, Shafeek was the only accused who had remained at large, Edavanna Circle Inspector Sibin said.