14 June 2011, Tuesday

The European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia for the failure to investigate the murder of a man abducted from his car in Chechnya in 2006, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicants in Movsayevy v Russia (20303/07) are the wife and brother of Salambek Movsayev, who disappeared after his detention by what the applicants claimed were state servicemen, while he was driving to Grozny with his wife and son. In the afternoon of 23 February 2006 Salambek's car was stopped by two armed men in the village of Chechen-Aul.  They asked him his name and then dragged him out of the car and forced him into one of the vehicles parked nearby. Another seven or eight armed men in camouflage uniform emerged from the vehicles to observe the scene. Salambek's wife tried to run after her husband but one of the abductors pointed his gun at her and ordered in Chechen not to interfere. A number of local residents also witnessed the abduction.  

Eighteen days later on 13 March 2006 Salambek's body was found with two gunshot wounds to the head in the vicinity of the Oktyabrskyi police station of Grozny. The clothes on the corpse were relatively dry and clean, leading the applicants to conclude that Salambek had been murdered shortly before the discovery of his body. There were also signs that Salambek had likely been subjected to torture while in detention.

The preliminary investigation into Salambek's death was suspended from 13 June 2006 until 22 October 2009 and made no substantive progress. A forensic ballistic examination of the bullets yielded no results as to the identity of the perpetrators, and the Court pointed out that crucial investigative steps were never taken. However, the Court did not find enough evidence to attribute Salambek’s abduction and death to state agents.

In its unanimous judgment, the European Court found that:

  • The Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the death of Salambek Movsayev (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • The applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before the Russian authorities for the violations of the right to life (Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention).

The applicants were awarded 24000 euro in respect of material and moral damages. Russian Justice Initiative assisted the applicants in bringing their case to the ECtHR.

For more information,

In Utrecht, the Netherlands, Egbert Wesselink: +3162 062 6756

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