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Pakistani Military Courts Approved By Supreme Court

Paramilitary soldiers stand guard outside the Supreme Court building in Islamabad (file photo).

The Pakistani Supreme Court has ruled that secret military courts in the country are legal and can hand down death sentences to civilians.

The August 5 judgment made in Islamabad is expected to further strengthen the military's influence in Pakistan.

Military courts were empowered to put suspected militants on trial after Taliban militants massacred more than 150 people -- nearly all of them children -- at an army-run school in December.

The constitutionality of the military courts had been challenged by several lawyers.

But Chief Justice Nasir ul-Mulk dismissed all claims against the courts in the August 5 ruling.

The Pakistani government said setting up the military courts was necessary because civilian judges were too intimidated to convict militants and sentence them to death.

Military courts had heard more than 100 cases involving militants and made rulings in at least 27 through June.

The military courts are empowered to try militant suspects until February 2017.

Pakistan's government has pledged to reform the civilian justice system by that time so that there is no longer a need for the military courts.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

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