Domestic Investigation

Said-Magomed and Marzet Imakayev immediately began searching for their son after learning of his detention on 17 December 2000. Marzet and Said-Magomed applied on numerous occasions to prosecutors and officials of various levels, including to the Ministry of Interior, to the administrative authorities in Chechnya, and to the Special Representative of the Russian President in the Chechen Republic for rights and freedoms. They also personally visited numerous detention centers throughout the North Caucasus.

Marzet and Said-Magomed received very little substantive information from official bodies about the investigation into their son's disappearance. The criminal investigation regarding the kidnapping was adjourned and re-opened several times. They continued to seek information about their son’s whereabouts subsequent to their application to the European Court, and in September 2003 the Russian government informed the Court that the acting public prosecutor of the Chechen Republic had reversed a decision to suspend the investigation, and had ordered that a number of investigative measures be conducted.

After Said-Magomed’s detention in June 2002, Marzet immediately appealed to local law enforcement bodies in an attempt to locate her husband. On 4 June 2002 the Moscow offices of Stichting Russian Justice Initiative and Human Rights Watch wrote letters to the deputy Representative of the Russian President on Human Rights in the Chechen Republic and to the prosecutor of the Chechen Republic regarding Said-Magomed’s disappearance. Marzet also on many occasions sought out the officer “Boomerang” with whom she had spoken just prior to Said-Magomed’s disappearance, but was always told that he was away or unavailable.

In August 2004 Marzet received a letter from the Main Military Prosecutor’s office informing her that the investigation into her husband’s disappearance had been closed because no criminal offence had been established.

Procedure at the ECHR

Said-Magomed and Marzet Imakayeva, assisted by Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, lodged their initial complaint with the European Court of Human Rights on 12 February 2002. After the disappearance of Said-Magomed in June 2002, Stichting Russian Justice Initiative submitted additional materials to the Court on 24 June 2002.

In her final submission to the Court, Marzet maintained that the Russian government bears responsibility for violations of several Articles of the European Convention for Human Rights, including the right to life (article 2), the prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment (article 3), the guarantee against arbitrary detention (article 5), and the right to an effective domestic remedy (article 13).

On 24 July 2002 the Russian government submitted information to the Court, pursuant to a request under Rule 49 of the Rules of Court. It stated that local criminal proceedings had been opened into the disappearance of Said-Magomed Imakayev, and at the same time denied that his detention was carried out by Russian servicemen. In this regard the government stated that the Shalinskiy district of Chechen Republic (and Novye Atagi in particular) “is an area of active criminal activities of terrorist and extremist organizations that commit crimes with a view to discredit Federal Forces in Chechen Republic using camouflage uniforms and motor vehicles that are similar to uniforms and vehicles used by servicemen and employees of law machinery bodies in Chechen Republic.”

In further submissions to the Court, the government cited certain procedural steps that had been taken in relation to the disappearance of the applicant’s son and husband. The case was officially communicated to the Russian government on 4 July 2003.

In a letter sent to Marzet in August 2004, the Main Military Prosecutor’s office admitted that her husband had been detained by soldiers, but claimed that he had been handed over by the head of the Federal Security Services Administration of the Shali District (FSB) to the head of the administration of Shali.

The case was declared admissible under expedited review on 20 January 2005. The European Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment in the case on 9 November 2006.