The five suspects, being held since May for the rape and murder of two young girls in the Uttar Pradesh state of northern India, will not be charged with any crimes, police said Monday, citing insufficient and conflicting evidence.
The murder of the girls, whose bodies were discovered hanging from a mango tree, sparked outrage in their home village of Katra, The Associated Press reported at the time.
Police in the area were under immense pressure to solve the crime and bring the killers to justice. In June, numerous news agencies, including the AP, reported that three men had been arrested and had confessed to raping and killing the girls.
Those three men, reportedly brothers from a family situated higher in India’s caste-based class system than that of the victims’ family, are expected to be released Friday after 90 days in jail. Also to be released are two police officers who were arrested for allegedly ignoring claims from the victims’ parents that the girls were missing. Under Indian law, 90 days is the maximum amount of time a person can be held without being charged.
Kanchan Prasad, a spokesperson for India’s top investigative agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, said the state would not “as yet” file charges against the men, but did not rule out that charges could come at a later date.
“Based on our investigations so far, we are not going to file the charge-sheet at this stage. However, no one has been given a clean sheet as yet,” Prasad is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
Although a local postmortem examination of the girls’ bodies reportedly indicated they had been sexually assaulted, further forensic testing and swabbing is said to have supposedly indicated otherwise.
Anand Lal Bannerjee, the head of police in Uttar Pradesh, said only one of the two girls’ bodies showed any indication of rape and other evidence indicated the girls were strangled before their bodies were hanged from the tree.
“According to the postmortem report of the deceased, one of the girls was not raped and it appears to be a case of honor killing. We are probing the matter,” he said.
The death of the girls also sparked protests across the rest of India. The country passed tougher rape laws last year after a woman in New Delhi was gang-raped and killed on a crowded bus in the city in December 2012.