27 September 2011, Tuesday

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the enforced disappearance of a Chechen man in 2004, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicant in Beksultanova v. Russia (no. 31564/07) is the mother of Timur Beksultanov, who disappeared after he was arrested by the Russian military at a checkpoint near the village of Achkhoy-Martan, Chechnya.

On the morning of 2 October 2004, an OMON officer arrived at the applicant’s house and asked her son to go with him in order to give testimony that he was not involved in any terrorist activities. Timur was under investigation at the time and on 7 October was due to appear for an interrogation, but planned to deny the charges. Timur left with the OMON officer. Subsequently, witnesses reported seeing Timur and the OMON officer arrive at a crossroads surrounded by a convoy of APCs and a large group of servicemen. After checking their identity cards, the servicemen began beating Timur and then shot him in the thigh and the shoulder before dragging him into one of the APCs and driving off. He has not been seen since.  

The applicant consistently appealed to the authorities to open an investigation into her son’s disappearance, but a separate criminal case into his abduction was never opened, despite the head of the criminal police of the Achkoy-Martan ROVD issuing a certificate in 2005 confirming Timur’s arrest by members of the security forces. In early 2007 the Prosecutor’s office informed the applicant’s representatives that investigators had found no objective evidence about her son’s disappearance and that they believed the applicant was deliberately complaining about the abduction of her son in order to shield him from the crimes he had been suspected of committing.

In its unanimous judgment, the European Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Timur Beksultanov (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • The Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into Timur’s disappearance (Article 2);
  • The manner in which the applicant’s complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
  • Timur Beksultanov was unlawfully deprived of his liberty (Article 5);
  • The applicant did not have access to an effective remedy before the Russian authorities for the violations (Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention).

The applicant was awarded 60,000 euro in respect of moral damages. Russian Justice Initiative assisted the applicant in bringing her case to the ECtHR in 2007. Learning of the judgment, the applicant Aminat Beksultanova said “it was vital that the Russian authorities be held responsible” despite the “constant pressure” she claimed she had been subjected to since submitting her application to the Court, including being dismissed from her job in 2009 one week after her application was communicated to the Government.

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