Eight out of 10 Malala suspects ‘secretly acquitted’
June 5, Islamabad: Eight of the 10 men reportedly jailed for the attempted assassination of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai were acquitted, it has emerged.
In April, officials in Pakistan said that 10 Taliban fighters had been found guiltyand received 25-year jail terms. But sources have now confirmed to the BBC that only two of the men who stood trial were convicted.
The secrecy surrounding the trial, which was held behind closed doors, raised suspicions over its validity.
The court judgement – seen for the first time on Friday more than a month after the trial – claims that the two men convicted were those who shot Ms Yousafzai in 2012. It was previously thought that both the gunmen and the man who ordered the attack had fled to Afghanistan.
Muneer Ahmed, a spokesman for the Pakistani High Commission in London, said on Friday that the eight men were acquitted because of a lack of evidence.
Saleem Marwat, the district police chief in Swat, Pakistan, separately confirmed that only two men had been convicted.
Ahmed claimed that the original court judgement made it clear only two men had been convicted and blamed the confusion on misreporting.
But Sayed Naeem, a public prosecutor in Swat, told the Associated Press news agency after the trial: “Each militant got 25 years in jail. It is life in prison for the 10 militants who were tried by an anti-terrorist court.” In Pakistan, a life sentence is 25 years.
The acquittals emerged after reporters from the London-based Daily Mirror attempted to locate the 10 convicted men in prisons in Pakistan.
The whereabouts of the eight acquitted men is not known.
The Oslo Times and Agencies