Pakistan Sentences 10 Men to Life in Attack on Malala Yousafzai

Court hands out terms for 2012 assassination attempt on teenage education activist



Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai in Birmingham, central England, on Oct. 10, 2014. Ms. Yousafzai rose to prominence after writing an online diary of her experience under the rule of the Pakistani Taliban.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—A Pakistani court Thursday sentenced 10 men to life in prison for their involvement in a 2012 assassination attempt on teenage education activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, lawyers and government officials said.

“They have received life sentences for the Malala case, but there is further legal action ongoing against them too so their [prison] terms may be enhanced,” said one of the lawyers involved in the case.

Life imprisonment is equal to 25 years in Pakistan. Lawyers and government officials declined to provide details about Thursday’s sentencing, or other legal action against the men, who have the right to appeal.

Ms. Yousafzai, 17 years old, rose to prominence after writing an online diary of her experience under the rule of the Pakistani Taliban, who had overrun much of her native Swat valley in 2007 and 2008. Her criticism of Taliban policies, especially their restrictions on girls’ education, angered the group, which labeled her a Western puppet and an enemy of Islam.

In October 2012, Ms. Yousafzai was on her way home after school when two gunmen stopped the school van, and shot her in the head after identifying her. Two other girls were also wounded. She was 15 years old at the time, and a national figure because of her campaign for women’s rights and education.

Ms. Yousafzai was stabilized by military doctors in Pakistan and then flown for emergency treatment and rehabilitation to the U.K., where she lives today.

The Taliban were driven out of Swat, once a picturesque tourist attraction in northwestern Pakistan, in a 2009 military operation. But militants have continued to target community leaders and residents they accuse of collaborating with the government. Mullah Fazlullah, who led the Swat Taliban when Ms. Yousafzai was attacked, is the current head of the Pakistani Taliban.

Lawyers in Mingora, the main town in the Swat valley, said four others, including the Pakistani Taliban chief, are still sought in connection with the attack on Ms. Yousafzai.

Pakistan’s military announced in September last year the arrest of the 10 alleged militants accused of being involved in the attack on Ms. Yousafzai. A Taliban representative rejected the military’s claim, saying only three militants were involved. The Pakistani Taliban have said they would continue to target Ms. Yousafzai.

Ms. Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, along with Indian children’s rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi, for her campaign for girls’ education.