5 Americans Get 10-Year Sentences in Pakistan Terror Plot

Farooq's father, Khalid, says his son was planning to get married and the group traveled here to attend the festivities. Dastagir noted that they arrived in Pakistan with three-piece suits. "What kind of terrorist wears a suit?" he asked.

Only after the wedding, Khalid Farooq said, were the five intending to travel to Afghanistan to help their fellow Muslims.

Dastagir said he will appeal to the Lahore High Court, one step below the Pakistani Supreme Court.

That appeal has a relatively high chance of succeeding. Pakistani courts suffer from shoddy evidence gathering and sloppy prosecutions, independent analysts say, and that leads higher courts to often overturn lower courts' convictions.

The Problems of the Anti-Terrorism Court

"A large number of these convictions are set aside. The reason is that the anti-terrorism court tries to decide cases quickly, even if the evidence is not there," says Nasir Aslam Zahid, an expert on the Pakistani legal system and the former chief justice of the Sindh High Court. "In the high court, you may be convinced that this person in front of you may have committed this crime, but you have to go on the evidence on record. And you find that the case has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt, so you have no choice but to acquit."

The Lahore High Court has overturned high-profile convictions from anti-terrorist courts before, including the man convicted of raping Mukhtar Mai and two men convicted of trying to kill then President Pervez Musharraf.

Indeed, Pakistani courts have recently overturned dozens of terror-related convictions. Since April at least 33 alleged terrorists have been released, according to Dawn, a leading English language newspaper here. The 33 had been indicted in nine suicide attacks that killed more than 150 people, Dawn said.

Zahid said the problem was created by a weak system of prosecution and evidence collecting -- rather than multiple cases of wrongly accused victims.

"Our police are not trained, they are not educated, and the investigation is not properly done," Zahid said. "The cases that are put up for trial before the courts are half baked."

Dastagir said he will appeal to the Lahore High Court within the week.

"The trial doesn't stop here," he said.

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