London, Dec. 12 (ANI): Hundreds of militant suspects arrested by the security forces in the Pakistan's Swat region remain uncharged in custody, a BBC Urdu research has revealed.
Some of the suspects have died under suspicious circumstances in the three years since the army announced it had ousted the Taliban from Swat. The army said that only about 20-30 militants died in custody since 2009, and insists that all of them died naturally after falling ill, reports the BBC.
Swat army spokesman Colonel Arif, however, said that all those who perished were provided with the best medical help.
The research states that few militants end up being successfully prosecuted in the courts. It suggests that about 3,000 to 4,000 men have been arrested in Swat and six other districts within the Malakand division since 2008 on terrorism charges.
The research suggests that a lack of credible post-mortems in Swat has added to suspicions that hundreds of Taliban prisoners remain victims of systematic extra-judicial killings.
Similar claims were made in July 2010, when Human Rights Watch accused the army of carrying out 238 such killings in the Swat Valley since September 2009.
Unofficial sources say that the deaths in custody have increased substantially in recent months.
A spokesman for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Sher Mohammad Khan, said that most terrorism-related cases did not reach the courts either because the suspects were killed in custody or because they were released before the case came to trial.
Out of 250 militancy and terrorism cases registered nationally in the last three years, only 4% have been conclusive - the same rate as in Swat. The reasons are universally the same - lack of evidence.
According to officials, sketchy prosecutions combined with the reluctance of witnesses to give evidence in terrorism-related cases all contribute to the low conviction rate. (ANI)