Eight of ten Taliban militants purportedly given lengthy prison sentences for the attempted murder of teenage activist Malala Yousafzai have already been released, according to a published report.
Britain's Daily Mirror, citing senior security sources inside Pakistan, reported Friday that the announced prison sentences for those deemed responsible for the October 2012 attack was "a tactic to get the media pressure away from the Malala case, because the whole world wanted convictions for the crime."
The source added that eight of the ten accused were later "released quietly, to avoid a media fuss."
Malala, who gained international attention by blogging about her experiences growing up under militant rule in Pakistan's remote Swat Valley, was shot in the head on her school bus by members of the Pakistani Taliban in retaliation for her calls for education for women and girls.
The then-14-year-old was originally treated in Pakistan by visiting British doctors before being flown to Birmingham, England, where she still lives with her family. Malala was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts.
According to the Mirror, when its reporter contacted the chief of police in the Swat Valley, the official confirmed the source's account, saying "two were convicted and eight acquitted." The Pakistan High Commission in London also confirmed that eight of the accused were convicted due to lack of "adequate evidence."
Pakistan authorities said this past September that they had arrested ten people in connection with Malala's attempted murder. Then, on April 30, a public prosecutor announced that all ten had been found guilty and given sentences of at least 25 years in jail. The prosecutor, Sayed Naeem, said the court had heard the case at an undisclosed location due to security reasons.
None of the men accused of taking part in the attempt on Malala's life are believed to have been the militants who boarded the school bus and pulled the trigger. The Mirror reports that those responsible for that are believed to have fled to neighboring Afghanistan, where they remain at large.