Courts give six ‘hardcore’ terrorists death sentence, while a seventh has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Military courts in Pakistan have issued death sentences to six militants and life imprisonment to another on terror charges, the Army said Thursday, the first convictions since the courts were established after a Taliban school massacre in December.
“Army chief confirms death sentence of six hardcore terrorists tried by the recently established military courts,” chief military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said in a Twitter post.
The six convicts awarded death sentences have been identified by a senior military official as Noor Saeed, Haider Ali, Murad Khan, Inayatullah, Israruddin and Qari Zahir. A seventh man, identified only as Abbas, was given a life sentence, the official said.
No further details were given on their individual cases, or when and where the trials were held.
The convicts were involved in committing “heinous” offences relating to terrorism, including kidnappings and suicide bombings, Bajwa said. The convicts can contest their sentences before a court of appeal, he added.
Pakistan lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty and announced the establishment of military courts in the case of terror offences in the wake of a Taliban massacre that killed 154 people, mostly schoolchildren, in December. Islamabad announced a national anti-terror plan in the wake of the school attack, which also involves the outlawing of militant groups, the registration of madrassas and a crackdown on hate speech.
Parliament has approved the use of the courts for two years, and cases are referred to them by provincial governments. But some have called for the trials to be more transparent.
“There is no information available about when and where the trials were held and keeping everything confidential would create doubts about military courts,” said political analyst Hasan Askari.
Pakistan has carried out 65 executions since lifting the moratorium on the death penalty. It was initially lifted only for those convicted of terrorism offences, but was extended to cover all capital offences in March.
The European Union, the United Nations and human rights campaigners have all urged Pakistan to reinstate the moratorium. Critics say Pakistan’s criminal justice system is unreliable, marred by police torture, poor legal representation for victims and unfair trials. Human rights group Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process.