Islamabad: Eight of the 10 Taliban militants, sentenced to 25 years in jail for attacking child activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, have been set free.
Earlier in April, a Pakistani court had sentenced 10 men to 25 years in jail for their role in the attack on Malala.
The secrecy surrounding the trial, which was held behind closed doors, has raised suspicions over its validity.
Muneer Ahmed, a spokesman for the Pakistani High Commission, said on Friday that the eight men were acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Saleem Marwat, district police chief in Swat, where the attack on then 15-year-old Malala took place, separately confirmed that only two men had been convicted.
Malala was shot in the head by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in her native Pakistan in October 2012 as she was returning from her school in the Mingora town of Swat district, northwest of the capital, Islamabad. Two other schoolgirls were also wounded.
Malala was attacked for taking up the cudgels for girls’ right to education.
The activist survived the gun shots and recovered after treatment first in Pakistan and later in the UK, where she lives with her family now. Malala is unable to return to her homeland because of Taliban threats to kill her and her family members.
The Pakistan Army had said in September 2014 announced that it has arrested 10 men involved in the attack on the education campaigner.
A security official said none of the four or five men who carried out the attack on Malala was among the 10 men sentenced on Thursday.
“But certainly they had a role in the planning and execution of the assassination attempt on Malala,” said a police official in Swat who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Police believe the gunman who shot Malala escaped across the border into Afghanistan.
Several people, including Pakistani Taliban leader Fazlullah, are wanted in connection with the attack on Malala.
Fazlullah, a fiery preacher from Swat, is also believed to be hiding out in eastern Afghanistan.
Malala won worldwide acclaim for standing up for the right to education of girls in Swat valley in 2007 when Taliban controlled the region.
The 17-year-old activist, who now lives in Britain, became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in October 2014. She was awarded the Nobel for her global campaign on education.