Pathribal encounter: Army to try officers accused in GCM

Army

The Army has decided to try in General Court Martial (GCM) its five officers allegedly involved in the Pathribal fake encounter killing of five innocent men in Anantnag district of Kashmir in March 2000.

The Army moved an application before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar, the designated CBI court, seeking transfer of the Pathribal fake encounter case to the General Court Martial, a court official said on Friday.

He said the CJM has directed transferring the records including the chargesheet and other material evidence to the General Court Martial through the Army's authorised officer.

The Army's decision came after the Supreme Court on May 1 gave eight weeks' time to it to decide whether the accused officers will be tried in the GCM or face a trial in the civilian court.

Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt Col Brajendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan were chargesheeted by the CBI in 2006 for killing five civilians and later dubbing them as foreign militants.

As per the CBI investigation, the five civilians were killed and branded as militants days after 35 Sikhs were massacred in the nearby Chattisingpora village.

The CBI filed the chargesheet against the accused Army officers in 2006 but the Army contested maintainability of the chargesheet claiming that prior sanction from the Centre was required under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which provides immunity against prosecution to Army personnel deployed in disturbed areas.

The Army's plea was rejected by all courts, including the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, till the apex court partly agreed with it saying prior sanction was required for prosecution.

However, the Supreme Court directed the Army to decide within eight weeks whether it will try the accused personnel in GCM or allow the trial in the civilian court.

Meanwhile, the relatives of victims are disappointed over the development saying "there is little hope for justice".

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