| Islamic militants Mohammad Hanif (left) and Mohammad Imran. (Reuters)
Karachi, Oct. 18 (Reuters): A Pakistani court convicted three Islamic militants today for carrying out a failed assassination attempt on President Pervez Musharraf last year, handing down 10-year jail terms to each of them.
The militants belonged to the al-Almi faction of Harkat-ul Mujahideen, a group that is also blamed for masterminding a suicide attack outside the US consulate in Karachi the same year in which 12 Pakistanis died.
Judge Aale Maqbool Rizvi of an anti-terrorism court said the three men were found guilty of plotting to kill Musharraf in April last year on his way to address a public rally in the port city of Karachi. The judge acquitted two other suspects citing lack of evidence.
The three, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Hanif and Mohammad Ashraf, and the two other suspects were accused by the police of parking a vehicle packed with explosives along a route the President was to take, but the remote-controlled detonator failed.
Imran, who was described by police as the ring-leader of the group, said he was innocent.
“All the cases against us are baseless,” Imran said as he stood handcuffed inside a metal cage built in one of the corners of the courtroom of the Karachi Central Jail. “I have nothing to do with an attempt to kill Pervez Musharraf or any other attack. I am a good Muslim,” he said.
“We are being held in jail because the government wants to please Americans,” he said.
Imran and his four companions, wearing traditional long shirts, baggy pants called shalwars and skull caps, looked relaxed after the verdict, chatting with each other and their lawyers and sharing chocolates.
The trial was held inside the heavily guarded Karachi Central Jail because of security reasons. Imran and Hanif were already given death sentences in April this year for the US consulate bombing. The chief prosecutor said the verdict was based on the confessions of the three convicted militants before a judicial magistrate. Militants have been blamed for attacks on Western targets in Karachi.