Two months after handing out 25-year imprisonment sentence to 10 men, found "guilty" of carrying out the 2012 attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani authorities have secretly freed eight of them, reports claimed on Friday.
The news has now sparked suspicion over the validity of the trial that had taken place behind the closed doors amid great secrecy.
In April, a Pakistani court had sentenced the 10 Taliban militants involved in the near-fatal attack on Malala to 25 years in jail. The sentencing was widely praised and many had opined that finally justice had been served.
However, it now seems that the entire judicial process was a sham. The London-based Daily Mirror, which tried to locate the 10 convicted men in Pakistan's prisons, was told by officials that eight of them had been freed.
A senior security source told the Daily Mirror that the 25-year prison term was "a tactic to get the media pressure away from the Malala case, because the whole world wanted convictions for the crime".
"Only two of those accused of being behind the plot to assassinate the schoolgirl, who spoke out against Taliban oppression of female education, are serving the 25 years the authorities claimed the whole gang were given," the senior official revealed.
Meanwhile, BBC was told by the local authorities that the eight men were acquitted for the lack of evidence and two, who were responsible for shooting the then 15-year-old Malala, were convicted.
In April, CNN had reported that the 10 people were sentenced to life imprisonment for their role in the 2012 attack on Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Malala Yousafzai.
The judgement was passed by Pakistani anti-terrorism judge Mohammad Amin Kundi, who claimed that the arrested militants were linked to the Pakistan Taliban and were taking orders from its leader, Mullah Fazlullah.