ISLAMABAD, June 24 The Pakistan Air Force has confirmed that it had arrested or dismissed from service at least 57 employees in connection with botched attempts on the life of former president Pervez Musharraf.

According to the lawyers of the arrested PAF personnel, they have been tried in military courts and six of them have been awarded death penalties.

Air Commodore Hamayun Viqar, a spokesman for PAF, said none of the arrests had been made during the past two years.

According to sources, the first arrest was made on Jan 9, 2004.

They said the number of personnel court-martialled, arrested or dismissed after the assassination attempt made in December 2003 was more than 100.

The personnel were working at different air bases, including the PAF Base Faisal, Minhas, Mushaf and Risalpur.

The PAF has also declared an airman as 'most wanted' for facilitating the escape of the main accused in the assassination attempts, Mushtaq, who was later re-arrested.

Officials said some of the personnel had been dismissed because of their links with militants and sympathies for banned religious groups.

However, the lawyers and relatives of the accused contest the claim.

Sources close to the families of at least two dismissed junior technicians, Adnan and Niaz, said they had been targeted for voting against the former president in a referendum. They said air force officials who had voted against Gen (retd) Musharraf had been identified from the serial number of the ballot papers issued to them.

However, PAF Public Relations Deputy Director Group Capt Tariq Mehmood dismissed the claim. “We will give you the details of each case,” he said.

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