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Secret Pakistani Court Sentences 9 To Death For Killing Dozens

A man takes pictures in a room where a suicide blew himself up in Karachi on September 20.
A man takes pictures in a room where a suicide blew himself up in Karachi on September 20.

A secret military court in Pakistan has sentenced nine men to death and one to life in prison after convicting them of involvement in different cases of terrorism, the military said September 21.

Military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa described the suspects as "hard-core terrorists" who had killed dozens of civilians and law enforcement officers.

The military said the nine convicts awarded death sentences belonged to banned outfits, including the Pakistani Kashmir-based Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. It named them as Said Zaman Khan, Obaid Ullah, Mehmood Khan, Qari Zubair Muhammad, Rab Nawaz, Muhammad Sohail, Muhammad Imran, Aslam Khan, and Jameel-ur-Rehman.

Convict Jamshed Raza, who was awarded life imprisonment, belonged to Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami, it said.

The 10 men were involved in three different cases. One involved various attacks on army convoys in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province; another involved a sectarian attack in the restive Baluchistan province in which 27 people were killed.

A third case involved an attack on a military convoy near the border with Afghanistan in which a serving general was assassinated.

The military said all 10 suspects had admitted their offenses before the court.

Military courts in Pakistan were empowered to try suspected militants in secret after Taliban gunmen massacred 134 children at an army-run school in December. The government argued that civilians were too scared to convict militants in civilian courts.

Last month, a military court sentenced six men to death after convicting them of involvement in the massacre at the school in Peshawar.

The military courts have heard hundreds of cases since January. However, little information has been released on the identity of the defendants, or on the charges or evidence against them.

Following a legal challenge, the Supreme Court ruled in August that closed military courts were legal and could pass death sentences on civilians, a judgment that critics say further strengthens the military's grip on power at the expense of civilian authorities.

The military courts' mandate to try suspected militants expires in February 2017, and the government has promised to use that time to reform the broken civilian justice system.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP