29 October 2009, Thursday

The European Court has found Russia responsible for the enforced disappearances of three men in Chechnya in 2000, Russian Justice Initiative said today.

The applicants in Satabayeva v. Russia and Vakhayeva and Others v. Russia are the relatives of Yusup Satabayev and Kazbek Vakhayev. Yusup was arrested on 23 February 2000 in Urus-Martan on suspicion of participation in an organised armed gang. Kazbek was detained during a security raid on 1 August 2000 and taken to the detention facility of the Urus-Martan temporary Department of the Interior of the Chechen Republic (VOVD). The criminal proceedings against Yusup was discontinued on 27 July 2000. Instead of being released he was at this point brought to Urus-Martan VOVD and detained together with Kazbek. On 13 August 2000 the authorities told the applicants that Yusup and Kazbek had been released. Both men are missing since.

The case Khantiyeva and Others v. Russia concerns the disappearance of Mayrudin Khantiyev who has not been seen since the early morning of 4 December 2000 when a group of federal servicemen apprehended him in his Grozny flat. At the material time, Grozny was under curfew and the block of apartments where Mayrudin lived was surrounded by several Russian military check-points.

Mayrudin's mother, Aina Khantiyeva, commented today's judgment as follows: "How could they (the government) not know who took away my son? Why did they take him? Where did they take him? The military commandant's office is five metres from the house... And it's not exactly a sheep missing, it's my son who disappeared... The investigator says that the criminal case is temporarily closed. That's how they give the case some vacation..."

In its three unanimous judgments, the Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Yusup Satabayev, Kazbek Vakhayev and Mayrudin Khantiyev who must be presumed dead (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);

  • The Russian authorities had failed to conduct effective investigations into the above violation (Article 2);

  • Yusup, Khazbek and Mayrudin were illegally detained prior to their disappearance (Article 5);

  • The manner in which the complaints of the applicants were dealt with by Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);

  • The applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before Russian authorities for the violations (violation of Article 13)

  • In the cases of Vakhayeva and Others and Satabayeva the Court also held that the refusal of the Russian authorities to submit the documents of the criminal case file constituted a failure to assist the Court in its investigation (Article 38)

The applicants were awarded a total of EUR 114,000 in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

The applicants in Khantiyeva and Others were assisted by Russian Justice Initiative in applying to the European Court whereas Chechen lawyer Mr. Itslayev assisted the applicants in Vakhayeva and Others and Satabayeva.

For more information:

In Moscow, Vanessa Kogan: +7 925 863 5111

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