A Pakistani court has sentenced 10 men to life in prison for their involvement in the 2012 attack on Nobel Peace Prize-winning education activist Malala Yousafzai.
According to Pakistani anti-terrorism judge Mohammad Amin Kundi, the men were given a trial with testimony from both sides followed by convictions and sentencing. The men could be eligible for parole in 25 years.
The men were arrested in Swat, a district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, almost two years after the then 15-year-old Yousafzai had been shot as she rode home on a school bus. The girl had been a target of Taliban militants who were angered by her public support of girls’ rights to an education, writes Zahir Shah for CNN.
Authorities in Pakistan said the men were part of the Taliban and were following orders from its leader, Mullah Fazlullah. The Taliban had earlier claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Yousafzai was “a symbol of the infidels and obscenity.”
It is unknown whether the men who were sentenced were the ones who actually carried out the attack on Yousafzai, although 23-year-old Ataullah Khan, the militant named chief suspect at the time of the shooting, was not among them. When they were arrested, Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said “we were able to track down the entire gang,” known as Shura.
While the case is one of the most high profile in the country — and the world — there is still little known about it, as someone had leaked the court ruling to a television channel.
A military press officer had originally promised to deliver a statement with case details, but backed out. No comments were made on the case by local lawyers or judicial officers.
When the army first announced they had detained the 10 men back in September, there was a similar air of mystery surrounding the events. No details were ever released concerning where or when the men had been arrested or how they were linked to the attack on Yousafzai.
This lack of detail caused many to become concerned that the army was just trying to show quick results while it was in the midst of attacks against militants in North Waziristan. In addition, many now believe these men are not who officials claim them to be.
Since surviving the attack, Yousafzai has gone on to become an increasingly vocal and influential international activist, winning the Nobel Peace Prize last year, writes Salman Masood for The New York Times.