MOSCOW, June 6 (RIA Novosti) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Thursday that Russian authorities did not bear direct responsibility for the death of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov.
Maskhadov, one of the leaders of the Chechen separatist movement in the 1990s, was killed during a special operation by Russian security forces in the northern Chechen village of Tolstoy-Yurt on March 8, 2005. His body was buried by Russian authorities and the burial site was not disclosed.
The court heard two cases against Russia on Thursday. In the first case, Maskhadov’s widow, Kusama Maskhadova and her two children, Fatima Maskhadova and Anzor Maskhadov, claimed that their husband and father had been trapped, detained and killed by the Russian security forces and not found dead as it was officially announced.
“As regards the alleged responsibility of Russia for the death of Aslan Maskhadov, the Court noted that the authorities could not have known in advance that he and other armed insurgents had been hiding in the underground shelter before blowing up its entrance, resulting in his accidental shooting,” the court said in a statement.
“Accordingly, the applicants’ allegations of conspiracy or collusion involving the authorities and the witnesses remained speculative, indeed implausible,” the statement reads.
The applicants in the second case were 50 Russian nationals who live in the town of Nalchik, the capital of Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. They appealed to the court as the relatives of 55 militants who were killed during an attack on law enforcement agencies in Nalchik in October 2005.
In both cases, the applicants complained about Russia’s refusal to hand over the bodies of their relatives to them for burial. The authorities had cited Russian anti-terrorism legislation in declining to release the bodies.
The court ruled that Russia’s refusal to return bodies of terrorist suspects to their relatives or give them another opportunity to pay their last respects to loved ones “had amounted to a violation of the applicants’ rights to respect for their private and family life.”
The court ruled that Russia was to pay the applicants 18,000 euros ($23,700) in the case of Maskhadova and Others and 15,000 euros ($19,800) in the case of Sabanchiyeva and Others in costs and expenses.