Eight men prosecuted for attack on Malala ‘were secretly freed’

Malala with her Nobel Peace Prize at Oslo ceremony

Eight of the 10 men who were supposedly given 25-year sentences for their part in the gun attack on education campaigner Malala Yousafzai have been set free, according to reports today.

Authorities in Pakistan said in April that all 10 had been found guilty of being involved in the 2012 shooting of the schoolgirl.

But the British Mirror newspaper has reported that only two are actually serving prison sentences.

It claimed the trial – which was held behind closed doors at a military facility – had been “a pathetic sham”. The Mirror story added that “a senior security source in Pakistan accused officials of lying over the trial and convictions”. It said the source claimed the eight were released “quietly, to avoid a media fuss”.

Malala makes her famous speech at the UN

Hours after the Mirror report appeared online, the BBC said sources had confirmed that only two men had actually been convicted.

It added: “The court judgement – seen for the first time on Friday more than a month after the trial – claims that the two men convicted were those who shot Ms Yousafzai in 2012.”

The BBC quoted Muneer Ahmed, a spokesman for the Pakistani High Commission in London, as saying the eight other men were acquitted because of a lack of evidence.

Malala, now 17, suffered serious head injuries when she was attacked on her school bus for campaigning against Taliban efforts to deny girls an education.

She was only 15 at the time – but recovered from her injuries to become a world-renowned symbol of the fight for education for all. She delivered a famous speech to the United Nations and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize last year.