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
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum