Pathribal: Indian army says no evidence against officers in Kashmir killings

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Police later exhumed the bodies of the killed menImage source, Other
Image caption,
The bodies of the killed men were exhumed

India's army has said it has not found enough evidence to press charges against some officers who were accused of "staged killings" in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The five officers were accused of killing seven people in Pathribal village in 2000.

The army had claimed the victims were foreign militants.

Police later exhumed their bodies and found that the bodies were those of local residents who had gone missing.

India's leading federal investigation agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), had investigated the incident and indicted the officers, saying it was a "fake encounter and cold-blooded murders".

Two years ago, the Supreme Court asked the army to decide whether accused officers should be tried by an army court or a civilian court.

The army opposed a civilian trial for the officers and took over the investigation.

An army spokesman told the Press Trust of India news agency on Thursday that the army examined more than 50 witnesses, including local civilians.

"The evidence recorded could not establish a prime facie case against any of the accused persons," he said.

The inquiry "clearly established that it [the incident] was a joint operation by police and the army based on specific intelligence", he added.

"The case has been closed by army authorities and intimation given to the court of the judicial magistrate in Srinagar."

The Chief Minister of Indian-administered Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, said he was "disappointed" with the army's decision.

"A matter as serious as Pathribal can't be closed or wished away like this, more so with the findings of the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] so self evident," he tweeted.