European Court finds Russia responsible for the disappearance of five men in Chechnya

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SRJI Russian Justice Initiative

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Jul 10, 2012, 8:38:39 AM7/10/12
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European Court finds Russia responsible for the disappearance of five
men in Chechnya
Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The European Court of Human Rights handed down two judgments finding
Russia responsible for the enforced disappearance of five men from
Chechnya in 2001 and 2004, Russian Justice Initiative and its
Moscow-based partner organization "Astreya" reported today.

The nine applicants in Ilayeva and others v Russia are the close
relatives of Inver, Adlan and Rustam Ilayev and Kazbek Batayev, who
disappeared after being detained by Russian servicemen from
Assinovskaya, Chechnya in 2004. The applicant in Vakhayeva v Russia is
the mother of Ruslanbek Vakhayev, who was detained at the "Roshnya"
checkpoint near the town of Urus-Martan, Chechnya in 2001, and
subsequently disappeared.

At about 4 am on 4 July 2004, a group of around ten masked servicemen
broke into the house of Inver Ilayev in Assinovskaya and detained
Inver, Adlan and Rustam Ilayev and Kazbek Batayev, who had all been
staying in the village overnight after conducting repairs all day on
one of the applicant's houses. The servicemen cornered the four men's
relatives in one room and refused to let them out as they began
beating the men and leading them out of the house. Later, neighbors
reported to the applicants that they had witnessed the servicemen
forcing the men into two APCs, which had driven off towards the
"Kavkaz" checkpoint leading out of the village. The APCs had stopped
at the checkpoint and the drivers had been heard talking to the
servicemen manning the checkpoint. None of the four men were seen
again. Adlan Ilayev was only 17 at the time of his disappearance.

Shortly after the abduction, several of the applicants visited the
Chechen Minister of the Interior, who named the Russian military unit
which in his opinion was likely responsible for the abduction. The
applicants later obtained information that their relatives had been
detained in a special military unit near Achkhoy-Martan, and that they
were then transferred to the federal military base at Khankala. The
investigation into the abduction of the four men failed to carry out
basic steps and the applicants had very limited access to information
on the progress of the investigation, despite having been granted
victim status.

The mothers of the four men, upon receiving news of the judgment, said
that "it was very good news, but we will continue to search for our
sons until we know the truth about what happened."

Ruslanbek Vakhayev was traveling in his friend's car on 5 October 2001
when they were stopped at the "Roshnya" checkpoint near Urus-Martan
for an identity check. The servicemen said they were detaining the
driver, ordered them out of the car, and began beating the driver.
Ruslanbek tried to intervene but the servicemen began beating him as
well. The passage through the checkpoint was closed and the servicemen
forced the two men into an APC which drove off in the direction of
Urus-Martan town center. The applicant has had no news of her son
since.

Despite several orders by supervising prosecutors to remedy
shortcomings in the investigation and a decision from the town court
finding the investigators negligent, the investigation made no
progress.

In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that the right to
life had been violated in respect of all five men and that the Russian
authorities had failed to conduct an effective investigation into
their disappearance. The close relatives of the victims were also
deemed to have been subjected to inhuman treatment due to the
authorities' response to their complaints, and to have had no
effective remedy at their disposal within Russia to deal with the
violations.

The applicants were awarded а total of 353 700 euro in respect of
moral and material damages in both cases.

For more information:

In Moscow, Anastasia Kushleyko, Legal Director, "Astreya:" +7 (495)
915-0869, +7 (962) 932-7878.

In Moscow, Vanessa Kogan, Executive Director, Russian Justice
Initiative; Director, "Astreya": +7 (495) 915-0869, +7 925 863 5111.
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