Kremlin 'was complicit in Chechen murders'

The European Court of Human Rights has found the Kremlin complicit in the murder and abduction of Chechen civilians snatched by Russian troops between 2000 and 2002.

In a rare ruling on the subject from the Strasbourg court, judges said Russia bore responsibility for the disappearances and murder or "presumed death" of three individuals. In one case the abductee, a 40-year-old mother of four, turned up in a mass grave eight months later, while in two others the bodies have never been found. The judgments, only the third and fourth from the court concerning Chechnya, are a damning indictment of how Russian troops prosecuted a war designed to destroy separatist rebels.

Troops entered Chechnya in 1999 to flush out independence-minded rebel fighters. But civilians were dragged into what became one of the 20th century's most brutal conflicts. Human rights groups estimate that up to 5,000 civilians have "disappeared" since 1999.

One of yesterday's rulings concerned the fate of Nura Luluyeva, a 40-year old nurse and kindergarten teacher. Ms Luluyeva was taken from a market in Grozny, the Chechen capital, on 3 June 2000 where she was selling strawberries. A group of masked Russian servicemen riding on an armoured personnel carrier abducted her in the course of what they claimed was a lawful "special operation." A sack was put over her head and she was never seen alive again. Eight months later, in February 2001, her decomposed body was uncovered in a mass grave containing 51 bodies, the biggest "dumping ground" of its kind.

The grave was less than a mile from the main Russian military base in Chechnya and an autopsy showed that Ms Luluyeva died from a blow to the head with a blunt object. Many of the bodies found there were bound and blindfolded.

The court found that Russia had violated the European Convention of Human Rights on five separate counts and said it "could not but conclude that Nura Luluyeva was apprehended and detained by state servicemen. There existed a body of evidence that attained the standard of proof 'beyond reasonable doubt', which made it possible to hold the state authorities responsible for Nura Luluyeva's death," it said.

In another judgment, the court found Russia responsible for the abduction and "presumed" deaths of a man aged 23 and his father. The son, a student called Said-Khuseyn Imakayev, was snatched by "military personnel" on 17 December 2000 and has not been heard of since. His father, Said-Magomed Imakayev, 47, began looking for him until he too was abducted on 2 June 2002 by about 20 servicemen who took him from his home.

The authorities blamed the abductions on separatist rebels, but eventually admitted they had detained the father on terrorism charges that didn't stand up. They claim he was released on the same day; he has not been seen since.

His widow, Marzet Imakayeva, said she hoped the ruling would prompt the authorities to tell her where the bodies of her husband and son are so she can bury them properly.

Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, a legal-aid organisation that helped the relatives mount the cases, said the rulings should weigh heavily on Russia's national conscience.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Lettings Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent agency with br...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Quantity Surveyor - Market Leading Package

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist consultancy pro...

Recruitment Genius: National Sales Administrator

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting new opportunity has...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935