ECHR Finds Russia Responsible For Killing A Chechen
On April 3, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) notified a judgement case which is related to Russian occupied Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The case is about the killing of a pro-Russian Chechen police officer.
Here is the press release:
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ECHR 134 (2012)
Russia responsible for killing of police officer in gunfire in Chechnya
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case Akhmadova v. Russia (application no. 25548/07), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
Two violations of Article 2 (right to life; obligation to conduct an effective investigation) and a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) in conjunction with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned the killing of a police officer in Chechnya in gunfire opened on him by a large group of armed men who, according to his mother’s complaint, were Russian servicemen.
The applicant, Yakha Akhmadova, is a Russian national who was born in 1953 and lives in Grozny, Chechnya (Russia). She is the mother of Khozh-Akhmed Akhmadov, a police officer in the patrolling unit of the Chechnya Ministry of the Interior who died in hospital in November 2004 from gunshot wounds he sustained when a group of 30 armed men in uniforms, driving around with cars without number plates, stopped him and a colleague in Grozny and opened fire on them.
Ms Akhmadova alleges that her son was killed by Russian servicemen. According to her submissions, the chief of headquarters and the deputy head of her son’s unit told her at his funeral that the perpetrators of the killing had been identified, that they were from a local military battalion and that they had killed her son by mistake. In addition, a number of other witnesses, including a police officer who was questioned on the day of the events, stated that the perpetrators had introduced themselves as servicemen of that battalion.
The Russian Government did not challenge the facts as presented by Ms Akhmadova, but denied that the perpetrators had belonged to any military or law-enforcement agency. One week after the events, an investigation into the killing of her son was instituted. It was suspended and resumed on a number of occasions and has failed to identify the perpetrators.
Complaints, procedure and composition of the Court
Relying on Article 2 and Article 13, Ms Akhmadova complained that her son had been killed by Russian servicemen, that the authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation into the alleged killing and that she did not have an effective remedy in respect of those complaints.
The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 28 May 2007.
Judgment was given by a Chamber of seven, composed as follows:
Nina Vajić (Croatia), President,
Anatoly Kovler (Russia),
Elisabeth Steiner (Austria),
Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”),
Julia Laffranque (Estonia),
Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos (Greece),
Erik Møse (Norway), Judges,
and also André Wampach, Deputy Section Registrar.
Decision of the Court
The Court found a violation of Article 2 in respect of the killing of Khozh-Akhmed Akhmadov. It was undisputed that he had been shot in November 2004 and subsequently died in hospital. Ms Akhmadova’s allegations that State agents were responsible for his death were supported by a number of witness statements. The Court also observed that at the time of the events the area where the applicant’s son was stopped was under the full control of the authorities. It was therefore highly improbable that a large group of armed men in uniforms introducing themselves as servicemen and opening fire could have driven around unknown to the authorities. The Court therefore found that the available evidence permitted it to establish to the requisite standard of proof that Russian servicemen were responsible for the death of Ms Akhmadova’s son, and it underlined that the Russian Government had not put forward any justification for his death.
The Court found a further violation of Article 2 in respect of the ineffective investigation into the circumstances of the killing. The authorities had immediately been made aware of the incident and the criminal investigation had been instituted a week later. Although the documents submitted to the Court showed that the investigators had been informed from the beginning of the proceedings about the alleged involvement of law-enforcement officers in the killing, they had not apparently taken any steps to examine that allegation. A number of key investigative measures, which should have been taken immediately after the crime had been reported, such as questioning key witnesses or taking steps to establish the owners of the cars used by the perpetrators, had not been taken at all. Furthermore, the investigators had not informed Ms Akhmadova of any significant developments in the proceedings beyond the suspension and resumption of the investigation, even though she had been granted victim status. Finally, between suspension and resumption of the investigation there had been lengthy periods of inactivity.
The Court also found a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2. It underlined that where a criminal investigation into a murder had been ineffective and the effectiveness of any other remedy that might have existed had consequently been undermined, the State had failed in its obligations under Article 13.
Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the Court held that Russia was to pay Ms Akhmadova 60,000 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage.