Peshawar | In a startling discovery, eight of the 10 men jailed for shooting Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage child rights activist who last year won the Nobel, in the head were set free and not sentenced for life as reported, raising suspicion over the validity of the secret trial.
In April, officials announced that all 10 Pakistani Taliban militants were handed down 25-year jail sentences by an anti-terrorism court after holding them guilty. However, sources have now confirmed to the BBC that only two of the men who stood trial were convicted and are serving their life terms.
The secrecy surrounding the trial, which was held behind closed doors, has raised suspicions over its validity. Muneer Ahmed, a spokesman for the Pakistani High Commission in London, said today that the eight men were acquitted due to lack of evidence.
The court judgement, seen for the first time this week over a month after the trial, claims that the two men convicted were those who shot Malala in 2012. A senior security source in Pakistantold the ‘Mirror’ the trial had absolutely no credibility as nobody was there to witness it but a public prosecutor, a judge, the army and the accused.
Ten men are not behind bars for the crime, as the Pakistani authorities would have us believe. That is a big lie, he said. Saleem Marwat, district police chief in Swat, where the attack on then 14-year-old Malala took place, separately confirmed that only two men had been convicted, adding the judiciary made its decision and there were no covert deals.
It is true that only two men were convicted for life while eight others have been acquitted, he said. Another police official said that the eight were in custody of army and it was not known whether they were set fee after being cleared by the court. Army has so far not commented on the issue nor has Malala herself reacted to the reports.
Ahmed claimed that the original court judgement made it clear that only two men were convicted and blamed the confusion on misreporting. The acquittals emerged after reporters from the London- based Daily Mirror attempted to locate the 10 convicted men in prisons in Pakistan, the BBC report added.
Malala was targeted by Taliban gunmen while she was returning home from school in the town of Mingora by bus which the gunmen boarded and asked for her by name before shooting her in the head.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.