A military court of appeal has upheld the sentences awarded to seven terrorists convicted for a brazen attack on the Pakistani Army's General Headquarters in 2009 that killed 11 soldiers.
A field general court martial had convicted the terrorists on August 11 last year on several charges, including desertion, murder, taking hostages and attacking the General Headquarters on October 10, 2009.
Former army personnel Aqeel Ahmed alias 'Doctor' Usman and Imran Siddique were given the death sentence while Wajid Mehmood, Khaliqur Rehman, Usman Gul and Muhammad Adnan were given life imprisonment. Tahir Shafique was sentenced to seven years in jail.
Abdul Karim, the father of Mehmood, told the media that the appellate court had rejected appeals by the seven men on November 14 though he was yet to be given a copy of the order.
Aqeel Ahmed's lawyer Tariq Asad said he would appeal in the High Court against the ruling. Military sources were quoted by the Dawn newspaper as saying the court of appeal had upheld the sentences handed down by the field general court martial.
Aqeel Ahmed and Imran Siddique had deserted the army between 2006 and 2009. Aqeel, the main accused, was given the nickname "doctor" as he had earlier served in the Army Medical Corps.
He was allegedly involved in several other terrorism cases, including the suicide car bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September 2008 that killed nearly 60 people. In October 2009, ten heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed the General Headquarters and held off army commandos for hours before they were killed or captured.
The militants forced their way into the main building of a military intelligence agency after killing soldiers guarding the entrance.
They took several personnel hostage before a final assault by commandos. Nine attackers were killed while Aqeel Ahmed was arrested after he was injured.
According to documents presented in the military court, the terrorist attack was planned at Miranshah in North Waziristan tribal agency by militants who had also attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in March 2009.
According to confessional statements by Aqeel Ahmed and other accused, the attackers had planned to take hostage brigadiers and generals to pressure the government into releasing detained militants.
They were directed to carry out the attack by Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami leader Ilyas Kashmiri and Ustad Aslam Yasin, the head of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan's Amjad Farooqui faction.