Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Estamirov Case

There are details of the Estamirov vs. Russia case at the Russian Justice Initiative website:

On 5 February 2000, five members of the Estamirov family were killed by Russian federal forces in a suburb of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, during a sweep operation several days after the federal forces had established control over the capital. The bodies were discovered the same day, burnt and with several gunshots, in the backyard of their own house by a relative. Toita Estamirova, eight months pregnant at the time, had several gunshots to her chest and abdomen. Toita’s one-year old child, Khasan, had gunshots to his head and leg.

Investigators at the scene of the crime collected numerous empty cartridges and observered tracks on the ground made by armed personnel carriers only used by Russian military forces. The investigation has established that the sweep operation was conducted by special police force units (OMON) from St. Petersburg and Ryazan. In spite of this, however, the Russian authorities have failed to hold anyone accountable for the crime.

The case was brought to the European Court by several members of the Estamirov family together with the British barrister Gareth Peirce and the organization Stichting Russian Justice Initiative. The applicants argue that their relatives’ right to life, guaranteed by Articles 2 of the European Convention for Human Rights, was violated. They also complain that they had no effective domestic remedies in respect of the above violations, contrary to Article 13.

Russian federal forces summarily executed at least sixty civilians in the suburbs of Grozny on 5 February 2000. Human rights organizations do not have any information indicating that anyone has been charged for these crimes.

The judgment in the case is expected on 12 October 2006.

Prague Watchdog has more on today's judgement and the outcome of the case.

There is an HRW account of the February 5 massacre in Novye Aldi here.

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