On December 8, 2015, the European Court found a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the case of abduction of two Chechen residents, Khasan Sagayev and Rasul Mukayev.
The Court in Sagayevy and others v. Russia ruled that the Russian Federation violated Article 2 of the Convention, which states that “everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.” The Court based its judgment on the statements by the relatives of the missing persons and the complaint prepared by Russian Justice Initiative, as well as on the investigation materials provided by the Russian government.
A resident of Urus-Martan, Khasan Aliyevich Sagayev (b. 1973) was detained by military men in the village of Alkhan-Yurt on 8 August 2000. According to his sister Khava Sagayeva, who lodged the application to the ECtHR, he was taken from home by members of the Russian armed forces: “Around noon, over 25 servicemen in masks and camouflage, armed with automatic rifles, arrived at the house in two APCs and several UAZ-452 vans. They rushed into the house, quickly searched it and confiscated all documents and family photos. They arrested Khasan Sagayev, put him in an armored personnel vehicle (BTR-82) and headed to the Rostov-Baku highway. There the vehicles joined a convoy of other APCs and UAZ cars.” The relatives applied to the Prosecutor’s office of the Chechen Republic, which on 5 September 2000 transferred the materials to the Military Prosecutor (Unit 20102). The Military Prosecutor’s office sent the case to Gen.-Maj. A.A. Larchenko, the commander of the Federal Forces Group “Zapad.” Following that, the relatives referred the matter to various official bodies but did not receive any feedback. Criminal case no. 25040 based on Article 126 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (abduction) was opened by the Prosecutor’s office of the Urus-Martan District on 21 March 2001.
Rasul Mukayev (b. 1979), a resident of Duba-Yurt, was detained on 3 December 2004. His mother Roza and his father Khazat Mukayev stated to the ECtHR : “At about 5am, an APC stopped near [our] house in the village of Duba-Yurt. Another APC and two UAZ-452 vans were waiting on the street nearby. Eight to ten armed servicemen in masks and camouflage uniform rushed into the house, searched it for valuables, weapons and ammunition, and took some belongings. The military men put handcuffs on Rasul and a football shirt to cover his head and led him out into the street, where one of them told someone on a walkie-talkie: ‘The object is received. We are leaving.’”
Rasul Mukayev had been suffering from epilepsy for many years. In the years preceding his abudction, due to complications from the condition, it was hard for him to move, and he rarely left the house. Immediately after Rasul Mukayev’s abduction, his parents wrote statements on his kidnapping to the District Department of Internal Affairs of the village of Chiri-Yurt (Shalinsky District of the Chechen Republic) and to the Prosecutor of the Shalinsky District. However, to this day Rasul Mukayev’s relatives know nothing about the reasons for his abduction or his present location. On 3 December 2004, a group of investigators examined the scene of the incident and questioned several witnesses, including the first applicant and the neighbors. On 23 December 2004, the Prosecutor’s office of the Shalinsky District opened Criminal case no. 36148. On 2 July 2005, the investigators interrogated the second applicant and named him a victim in the case. The investigation was suspended on 23 February and again on 7 July 2005.
The decisions by the European Court for Human Rights have demonstrated the illegality of the detention of Sagayev and Mukayev and the failure of the investigation into their disappearance.
In accordance with the Court’s judgment, the Russian Federation must pay both Khasan Sagayev’s sister and Rasul Mukayev’s parents €60,000 in moral damages. Mukayev’s parents also received €10,000 in material damages.
Upon learning of the decision of the European Court for Human Rights, the relatives of Khasan Sagayev and Rasul Mukayev have stated that they still hope for the uncovering of the crimes and that their loved ones will be found. Khava Sagayeva has noted that the plate number of the APC that took away her brother is known, which means that it is possible to identify the servicemen responsible and to establish the facts of what happened next.
Russian Justice Initiative will continue to seek the enforcement of the judgment of the ECtHR – not only as concerns the compensation payments, but also the investigation as such.