Prosecutors on Thursday dropped their investigation of two German soldiers who posed for photos with a skull they found in Afghanistan.

Prosecutor Ruediger Hoedl said that the soldiers' actions did not rise to the level of the crime of disturbing the peace of the dead.

The soldiers found the skull and other bones in 2003 in a place long used as a residential area by Afghans, Hoedl said. Only if the remains had been removed from a cemetery would the act have constituted a prosecutable crime, he said.

Several sets of the pictures of German soldiers posing with the skull and other bones surfaced in October, provoking disgust in Germany and Afghanistan and concern that their publication could prompt attacks on German troops in Afghanistan.

Several others soldiers were suspended in the course of the army's own investigation.