In April, ten men were sentenced to life in prison by a Pakistani court for the assassination attempt on Malala Yosafzai, the schoolgirl and education activist shot in 2012. “Life,” we now learn, apparently means “a couple months.” The BBC now reports that eight of the men were secretly acquitted. Immediately after the trial, which was held behind closed doors, a prosecutor had told the Associated Press each man got 25 years.
The BBC got hold of the court judgment in the case for the first time, and found that eight of the men were acquitted on all charges due to lack of evidence. The whole thing is curious, given that people involved in prosecuting the case claimed clearly and unambiguously that they’d been convicted. From one of the many reports at the time:
“Ten attackers who were involved in the attack on Malala Yousafzai have been sentenced to life imprisonment,” a court official told AFP news agency. Life prison sentences in Pakistan are 25 years.
News of the sentencing was confirmed by a lawyer present at the hearing in the north-western town of Mingora, as well as a security official.
The obvious follow-up question is: where are those eight men? The answer, according to the BBC, is that nobody knows. A court official who reportedly confirmed the original judgment to the AFP back in April is now denying ever speaking to that reporter (but yet didn’t dispute the literally thousands of reports saying the men had been convicted). This entire thing reeks.
Yousafzai acceptst her Nobel Peace Prize, December 11, 2014. Photo via AP Images