Body found in largest Chechen mass grave
The European Court of Human Rights will rule on the first case regarding the disappearance and murder of a woman in Chechnya on 9 November 2006, Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, a legal aid organization representing the family, said today. The body was found together with fifty other dead bodies in a mass grave close to the military headquarters at Khankala in Chechnya.
On 3 June 2000 a group of military servicemen appeared at the market where 40-year-old mother of four Nura Luluyeva worked and detained her along with several other people including two of her cousins. Eyewitnesses to the detention report that the military servicemen arrived on armoured personnel carriers (APC), which are only used by federal forces.
Luluyeva’s body and the bodies of her cousins were found among fifty-one dead bodies in a mass grave in Chechnya in February 2001. The mass grave was located in the village of Dachny, which is less than a kilometre from the main military base at Khankala in Chechnya (Map: Michale S. Miller, HRW, 2001). Most of the bodies were in civilian clothing, some were blindfolded, and many had their hands or feet bound. Several of the people whose bodies were discovered were last seen alive in custody of Russian federal forces. The discovery and content of the mass grave was documented by Human Rights Watch in their report Burying the Evidence (see below).
The Russian authorities launched an investigation into Luluyeva’s death. In spite of specific evidence such as the hull number of the APC used to abduct Luluyeva, however, the investigation has not produced any results. In its admissibility decision, the Court notes that the investigation “was adjourned and reopened seven or eight times. The investigation carried out by the Grozny Town Prosecutor's Office produced no tangible results. The investigation did not identify the persons or the detachment which was responsible for abduction and murder, and no one was charged with the crimes.”
Investigations into the deaths of other people whose bodies were discovered in the mass grave have been equally ineffective. In its report, Human Rights Watch heavily criticized the Russian authorities for the failure to identify the majority of the bodies, the failure to record and preserve important evidence and inadequate autopsies. No one has been held accountable for these 51 murders. Stichting Russian Justice Initiative is representing the families of three other people whose bodies were also found in the mass grave.
In the absence of an effective investigation, Luluyeva’s relatives, assisted by the British barrister Gareth Peirce and Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, lodged an application with the Court on 24 November 2000. In their application to the Court, Luluyeva’s relatives alleged that she had been unlawfully arrested, tortured and killed by the Russian authorities and that there had been no effective investigation into those events.
For more information:
In the Netherlands: Jan ter Laak, +31 622975179
In Ingushetia, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753
Stichting Russian Justice Initiative
HRW: Burying the evidence: The Botched Investigation Into a Mass Grave in Chechnya