ONLY two of ten men supposedly jailed for the attempted assassination of teenage activist Malala Yousafzai have actually been convicted during the secret trial, it has emerged.
In April, officials in Pakistan said that ten Taleban fighters had been found guilty and received 25-year jail terms.
But yesterday sources confirmed that only two of the men who stood trial were convicted.
The secrecy surrounding the trial, which was held behind closed doors, raised suspicions over its validity.
The court judgment – seen for the first time yesterday, more than a month after the trial – claims that the two men convicted were those who shot Ms Yousafzai in 2012.
It was previously thought that both the gunmen and the man who ordered the attack had fled to Afghanistan.
Muneer Ahmed, a spokesman for the Pakistani High Commission in London, said that the eight men were acquitted because of a lack of evidence.
Saleem Marwat, the district police chief in Swat, Pakistan, separately confirmed that only two men had been convicted.
Mr Ahmed claimed that the original court judgment made it clear only two men had been convicted and blamed the confusion on misreporting.
But Sayed Naeem, a public prosecutor in Swat, said after the trial: “Each militant got 25 years in jail. It is life in prison for the ten militants who were tried by an anti-terrorist court.”
In Pakistan, a life sentence is 25 years.
The whereabouts of the eight acquitted men is not known.
Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Prize in December, adding to pressure on Pakistan to bring her attackers to justice.
The trial was held at a military facility rather than a court and was shrouded in secrecy, a Pakistani security source said. Anti-terrorism trials in Pakistan are not open to the public.
Pakistani authorities did not make the judgment available at any stage, nor did they correct the reports over the past two months that ten men had been convicted.
The announcement of the convictions in April took many by surprise.
The authorities did not say when and where the men had been arrested or how they were linked to the attack, or explain the charges against them.
Ms Yousafzai, who is now 17, was targeted by Taleban gunmen while she was travelling home from school in the town of Mingora.
The gunmen boarded a bus and asked for her by name before shooting her in the head.
She was treated for her injuries in the UK and currently lives in Birmingham with her family. They are unable to return to Pakistan because of death threats from the Taleban.
Ms Yousafzai was targeted after campaigning for education rights for girls. She also wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC’s Urdu service, describing life under the Taleban.
Pakistan’s mountainous Swat valley, where she lived with her family, was overrun by the Taliban between 2007 and 2009.