Most of the Taliban militants who were jailed for life over involvement in the 2012 attack on Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai have been secretly released, the Daily Mirror reported on Friday.
The newspaper quoted “senior security sources” within the Pakistani establishment as saying that 8 of the ten men had been put through a trial and jailed because the world wanted action over the attack on Malala.
Yousafzai, who was 16 at the time of the incident, was shot and seriously wounded after gunmen opened fire on her school bus in Pakistan’s restive Swat region in October 2012.
The Pakistani Taliban later claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying she had been targeted for calling for all girls to be given an education.
She was later flown for treatment to Birmingham, where she now lives with her family.
“Only two of those accused of being behind the plot to assassinate the schoolgirl, who spoke out against Taliban oppression of female education, are serving the 25 years the authorities claimed the whole gang were given,” the Daily Mirror claimed.
The claim was separately confirmed by Swat police chief Saleem Marwat as well as the Pakistani High Commissioner in London who said the 8 men were released due to a “lack of evidence”.
The Daily Mirror’s source added, “The trial had absolutely no credibility as nobody was there to witness it but a public prosecutor, a judge, the army and the accused.”
“But the truth is that, whether these acquitted men were involved or not in the Malala shooting, the public has been lied to,” the source alleged.
The trial had been held in a secret military facility where the men were jailed for 25 years each.
“The authorities did not make the judgement available at any stage, nor did they correct the reports over the past two months that 10 men had been convicted,” BBC reported.
The announcement of the convictions in April took many by surprise as no one was aware the trial was taking place.
The authorities had also failed to reveal what the charges against the men were or even if they were linked to the attack.
The convicted militants – identified as Zafar Iqbal, Adnan, Salman, Irfan, Hazrat Bilal, Izhar, Zafar Ali, Shaukat Ali, Ikram and Israr Rehman – were arrested in September last year during raids in Swat.
The militants admitted Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah had masterminded the attack on Malala, which also left her two friends, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, injured, according to the military.