Постановление Европейского суда по правам человека от 12.05.2010 «Дело Сулейманова (suleymanova) против России» [англ.]

Город принятия

(Application No. 9191/06)
(Strasbourg, 12.V.2010)
*This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Suleymanova v. Russia,

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:

Christos Rozakis, President,

Nina {Vajic}*,

*Здесь и далее по тексту слова на национальном языке набраны латинским шрифтом и выделены фигурными скобками.

Anatoly Kovler,

Elisabeth Steiner,

Khanlar Hajiyev,

Dean Spielmann,

Giorgio Malinverni, judges,

and {Soren} Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 22 April 2010,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

1. The case originated in an application (No. 9191/06) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ("the Convention") by a Russian national, Ms Zura Suleymanova ("the applicant"), on 6 March 2006.

2. The applicant was represented by lawyers of the Stichting Russian Justice Initiative ("SRJI"), an NGO based in the Netherlands with a representative office in Russia. The Russian Government ("the Government") were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

3. The applicant complained of the killing of four of her relatives by military servicemen in May 2000 in Chechnya and of the absence of an adequate investigation into the events. She invoked Articles 2, 13 and 14 of the Convention.

4. On 20 May 2008 the Court decided to apply Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, to grant priority treatment to the application and to give notice of the application to the Government. Under the provisions of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention, it decided to examine the merits of the application at the same time as its admissibility.

5. The Government objected to the joint examination of the admissibility and merits of the application. Having considered the Government's objection, the Court dismissed it.

I. The circumstances of the case
6. The applicant was born in 1944 and lives in Gekhi, Chechnya. She is the mother of Ramzan Suleymanov, who was born in 1965 and the mother-in-law of Petimat Aydamirova, who was born in 1972. The applicant also is the grandmother of Ibragim Suleymanov, who was born in 1991 and a relative of Aslanbek Aydamirov, who was born in 1970.

7. The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

A. The events of 16 - 19 May 2000
1. Information submitted by the applicant
a. Killing of the applicant's relatives
8. At the material time the applicant's son Ramzan Suleymanov lived in the village of Gekhi in the Urus-Martan district of Chechnya with his wife Petimat Aydamirova, who was pregnant, and their son Ibragim Suleymanov. Ramzan Suleymanov worked as a driver of a KAMAZ lorry, transporting goods in the area. The vehicle belonged to his neighbour, Mr R.Dz. At the time Gekhi and the surrounding area were under curfew.

9. On 16 May 2000 Petimat Aydamirova's brother, Aslanbek Aydamirov, came to Gekhi to visit his sister. He told her that their mother, who lived in the village of Roshni-Chu, in the Urus-Martan district, was ill. The family decided to visit her on the same day. Ramzan Suleymanov obtained the permission of Mr R.Dz. to use the KAMAZ lorry to get to Roshni-Chu. At about 7 p.m. he, Petimat Aydamirova, Ibragim Suleymanov and Aslanbek Aydamirov left Gekhi and drove in the lorry in the direction of Roshni-Chu.

10. At about 2 a.m. on the night between 16 and 17 May 2000 a resident of Gekhi Mr R.S. came to the house of Mr R.Dz. and told him that his KAMAZ lorry was burning about 500 metres away from the outskirts of Gekhi. Mr R.Dz. immediately got in the car and drove to the outskirts of the village. There he left his car next to the house of the head of the Gekhi village administration, Mr S.-S.A., and continued on foot towards Roshni-Chu.

11. When Mr R.Dz. approached the burning lorry he saw the naked body of Petimat Aydamirova next to the right side of the vehicle. Mr R.Dz. immediately returned to the village and woke up Mr S.-S.A. The latter was already aware of the events as he had heard Petimat Aydamirova screaming. According to him, in the evening of 16 May 2000 the KAMAZ lorry had been driving from Gekhi in the direction of Roshni-Chu. When the vehicle had been about 500 metres away from the outskirts of the village, Russian military servicemen in an APC (armoured personnel carrier) had approached it through the wheat field and opened gunfire. After the shooting a woman had started screaming; her screams had been heard by residents of Gekhi, including Mr S.-S.A. Then the residents had heard gunfire and the screaming had stopped. About half an hour later the servicemen had shot at the lorry from a grenade launcher, setting it on fire, before driving away.

12. Mr S.-S.A. told Mr R.Dz. that due to the curfew they had to leave immediately and return in the morning. Upon returning home Mr R.Dz. informed the applicant's nephew, whose house was nearby, about the events. The men agreed to return to the lorry in the morning on 17 May 2000. The applicant's nephew informed the applicant about the events on the same night.

b. Information provided by local residents about the events of the night between 16 and 17 May 2000
13. Early in the morning of 17 May 2000 the applicant went to the KAMAZ lorry with her relatives, Mr R.Dz., the head of the administration and a number of local residents.

14. According to the witnesses, next to the vehicle they saw numerous bullet holes in the ground whose positioning indicated that four people had been put down on the ground and shot in the head. The applicant's other son, Mr A., found a piece of human brain; Ibragim Suleymanov's cap was also discovered at the scene. There were many bullet casings around the lorry; the cab was covered with bullet holes, especially on the driver's side. The passenger's side, where Petimat Aydamirova had been sitting, remained intact.

15. In the wheat fields around the lorry the residents discovered numerous APC tyre tracks, which were clearly visible on the ground. The bodies of the applicant's relatives were gone, including the body of Petimat Aydamirova. It appeared that the servicemen had returned to the scene at some point after the shooting and had taken the corpses away.

16. On the same date, 17 May 2000, two unidentified residents of Gekhi told the applicant that the day before, in the evening of 16 May 2000, Russian military servicemen in two APCs and a military Ural lorry had been driving around the village in the wheat fields. At some point they had opened fire on the lorry with the applicant's relatives in it. The two men had heard Petimat Aydamirova and her son screaming, then the sounds of gunshots and the screaming had stopped. About thirty minutes later the servicemen had fired at the lorry from their grenade launcher and it had caught fire. After that they had left the scene. However, late at night the servicemen had briefly returned to the lorry.

17. On 18 May 2000 one of Mr R.Dz.'s acquaintances told him that he had heard in the news broadcasted by the "Chechnya svobodnaya" ("Чечня свободная") radio station that close to Gekhi the Russian military forces had "eliminated" a KAMAZ lorry carrying members of illegal armed groups. No other KAMAZ lorries, other than the one the applicant's relatives had been driving in, had been "eliminated" by military servicemen in the area around that time.

c. Discovery of the bodies of the applicant's relatives
18. On 19 May 2000 the corpses of the applicant's relatives were discovered by a shepherd in the vicinity of Roshni-Chu. According to him, about 1.5 km. away from the base of a Russian military unit he had found a pile of empty ammunition boxes. He noticed that the cows had been afraid to approach it and behaved "strangely"; he had concluded that human corpses must have been underneath it.

19. On 20 May 2000 a number of residents of Gekhi and representatives of the local administration and the press went to the scene. However, instead of the pile of boxes they found a shell hole, measuring approximately 2 x 3 metres, and human remains within a radius of about a hundred metres around it. Then the group discovered the body of Ramzan Suleymanov with numerous firearm and shell wounds, and next to it the body of Aslanbek Aydamirov. About 50 metres away they found the body of Ibragim Suleymanov with the head and two limbs missing. The missing limbs were found about 20 metres away from the body. As to Petimat Aydamirova, only some parts of her body were found, namely, her two legs and her head. Her earlobes had been torn and her earrings were missing.

20. The deaths of Ramzan Suleymanov, Ibragim Suleymanov and Petimat Aydamirova were certified by a document issued by the Urus-Martan district prosecutor's office on an unspecified date. In addition, the death of Petimat Aydamirova was also confirmed by an official medical statement issued by the Gekhi district hospital on 6 June 2000. The document stated that her death had occurred on 19 May 2000 and had been caused by numerous shell wounds to the head and chest. The death of Ramzan Suleymanov was also confirmed by a death certificate issued by the Urus-Martan district civil registry office ("ЗАГС") on 19 June 2000, stating that his death had occurred on 19 May 2000 and by an official medical statement issued by the Gekhi district hospital on 6 June 2000, stating that his death had occurred on 19 May 2000 and that it had been caused by numerous shell wounds to the head and chest.

21. In support of her statements, the applicant submitted an account by Mr R.Dz. dated 15 March 2006, an article "Nelyud" ("Нелюдь") published in the "Marsho" ("Маршо") newspaper on 3 June 2000, the medical statements, dated 6 June 2000 and the death certificates, undated and dated 19 June 2000.

2. Information submitted by the Government
22. The Government challenged some of the facts as presented by the applicant and submitted their version of the events. Referring to the findings of the domestic investigation, they submitted the following.

a. The killing of the applicant's relatives
23. At the material time, in May 2000, a counter-terrorist operation was taking place in Chechnya. The Russian military forces participated in the operation in order to eliminate illegal armed groups and to prevent them carrying out further criminal activities.

24. At some point prior to the events, the military forces had obtained information that illegal armed groups were using a road between Gekhi and Roshni-Chu as a supply route. A military intelligence unit was charged with to discovering it and eliminating the members of the illegal armed groups.

25. At about 7.30 p.m. on 16 May 2000 a group of servicemen of the military intelligence group was executing that task in the area of Gekhi in the Urus-Martan district in the framework of a special operation ordered by the commander of the Army Group "West".

26. According to the Government, the local residents had been informed about the curfew and their obligation, if they happened to be in the area of a special operation, to obey the orders of the military, stop moving, step out of the vehicle if they were driving and wait for the arrival of an inspection group.

27. At about 7.30 p.m. on 16 May 2000 the applicant's relatives Ramzan Suleymanov, his wife Petimat Aydamirova, their minor son Ibragim Suleymanov and their relative Aslanbek Aydamirov were driving from Gekhi to Roshni-Chu in a KAMAZ lorry with registration number A 619 AA 20 RUS.

28. The lorry was moving with its lights off and during the curfew. The intelligence group launched a warning flare and shot a number of warning gunshots. When the lorry then sped up, the chief of the group decided to open gunfire on the vehicle.

29. As a result of the gunfire, the vehicle caught fire and the people inside died. The group inspected the vehicle. Inside they found two partially burnt male corpses and an AKM-74 (submachine gun) No. 282972. After the inspection the group left the area and returned to the place where it was temporarily stationed.

b. Discovery of the bodies of the applicant's relatives
30. At about 9 a.m. on 19 May 2000 on the outskirts of Roshni-Chu a local resident found the bodies of Ramzan Suleymanov and Aslanbek Aydamirov and parts of the bodies of Petimat Aydamirova and Ibragim Suleymanov. All bodies had traces of injuries received as a result of an explosion and were scattered around a shell hole.

31. On the same date, 19 May 2000, the applicant's relatives were buried.

32. The Government did not submit any documents to support their version of the events.

B. The investigation into the killing
33. On 17 May 2000 the applicant's relatives, Mr R.Dz. and the head of the administration, Mr S.-S.A., complained about the killing to the Urus-Martan district military commander's office ("the district military commander's office"). They were assured by the authorities that the culprits would be identified as soon as possible and the corpses of the applicant's four relatives would be returned on the following day.

34. On 17 May 2000 several employees of the district military commander's office, including the military commander, went to the crime scene. They towed the burnt lorry to the premises of a military unit stationed in the area.

35. On 19 May 2000 (in the documents submitted the date was also referred to as 8 August 2000) the district prosecutor's office instituted an investigation into the killing of the applicant's relatives under Article 105 of the Criminal Code (murder). The case file was given the number 24019.

36. According to the Government, on 21 May 2000 the applicant was granted victim status in the criminal case. According to the applicant, she was granted it on 21 May 2004.

37. On an unspecified date prior to July 2000 the investigators examined the crime scene. As a result, they found 59 cartridges of 7.62 mm calibre, 10 cartridges of 5.45 mm calibre, a green military waterproof cape, a yellow metal woman's earring and numerous reddish black spots resembling blood. The left side of the KAMAZ lorry had numerous bullet holes in it.

38. The crime scene examination