A Pakistani court has sentenced two people to life in prison and acquitted eight others for the 2012 attack on future Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Malala Yousafzai, police disclosed Friday.
Media reports from late April, including one from CNN citing Pakistani antiterrorism judge Mohammad Amin Kundi, indicated all 10 people arrested in the case had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
But authorities now say that was not the case.
Rather an antiterrorism court concluded “not enough evidence was produced” to convict eight individuals charged in the case, “whereas proof was provided (for) the two convicted,” according to Saleem Khan Marwat — a police officer in the Pakistani district of Swat whose office got a copy of the verdict
Azam Kham, a police deputy inspector general in Pakistan’s Malakand region that includes Swat, confirmed the court’s decision, including that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to convict those acquitted.
This suggests the eight convictions and sentences were not overturned but, instead, never happened in the first place.
There was no explanation for the discrepancy in the information provided by Kundi and the new details on the eight acquittals, which apparently also occurred in late April, but were not revealed until Friday.
That said, just because eight of those accused in Yousafzai’s shooting were acquitted does not mean they’ve walked free. They’re still being held by Pakistani authorities for other alleged crimes, according to Marwat.
The court proceedings mark the latest in the roller coaster saga surrounding Yousafzai, who evolved in a few short years from anonymous child advocate to Taliban target to global symbol in the fight for women and children’s rights.
Born in the Swat city of Mingora, Yousafzai persistently attended school there despite the growing threat of fundamentalists opposed to girls getting an education. Not only that, she blogged for the BBC about the dangers of living in the area and the importance of girls going to school.
She was 15 when a gunman boarded her bus as it headed home from school and shot her in the head and neck. The bus driver hit the gas, and the assailants got away.
Yousafzai was eventually flown to England for intensive medical treatment. She not only survived but thrived, stepping up her activism and earning the Nobel Peace Prize — which she shared with India’s Kailash Satyarthi — last year.
Last September, Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa announced that 10 were arrested in Swat for the shooting.
Authorities in Pakistan have said the people involved in the attack were linked to the Pakistan Taliban and were taking orders from its leader, Mullah Fazlullah. In fact, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault against Yousafzai, whom they labeled “a symbol of the infidels and obscenity” for her activism.
It’s not known if the man who shot Yousafzai was among those arrested, or if he is among those facing a life sentence or who has been acquitted.