In late April, a prosecutor in Pakistan said that 10 men had been sentenced to 25 years in jail for helping plan the 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai, a women’s education activist who survived the attack (which took place when she was 15) and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. But the court proceedings in question had been closed to the public, and when an official report on Yousafzai’s case was issued Friday, it indicated that eight of the men allegedly convicted had in fact been freed. From the New York Times:
“They were released for lack of evidence,” said Azad Khan, the regional deputy police chief, adding that the government would probably appeal the decision.
Mr. Khan emphasized that there was “no conspiracy or mystery” in the case and that the initial, mistaken reports of the convictions had stemmed from the secretive nature of the trial.
According to AFP, a senior Pakistani security official has accused the police of lying, saying the court did initially sentence all 10 men to life imprisonment. Meanwhile, the militant suspected of actually shooting Malala is believed to be on the run in Afghanistan, along with the Pakistani Taliban chief who ordered the attack, AFP reports.
Malala was shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban when she was returning in a vehicle along with several other students from school. The militants targeted her because she advocated education for women. She was initially treated in Pakistan, but was later flown to a hospital in Britain, where she now lives with her family.
The level of uncertainty and secrecy involved in Yousafzai’s case is reportedly not unusual in Pakistan’s judicial system, whose handling of alleged religious militants is said to be particularly opaque.