Russian State responsible for killing of 20-year-old Ingushetian man

Published: 16 Feb 2016

For me, the most important thing has been to prove that my nephew was not a criminal, but the victim of crime, committed by the security forces. 

The European Court of Human Rights today found that the Russian State “failed to take the reasonable measures available to them in order to prevent the death” of Apti Dalakov. In its judgment, the European Court found violations of the right to life, relating to the pursuit and shooting of Mr Dalakov in 2007, and subsequent failure to effectively investigate the events leading to his death. Mr Dalakov’s uncle, the applicant in this case, was represented by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), based at Middlesex University, and Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow).

In the early evening of 2 September 2007, as Mr Dalakov and his friend were leaving a computer club, two unidentified minivans approached them, from which a group of armed men emerged; it later became apparent that these men were officers of the Ingushetia Federal Security Service (FSB). Without any warning, they opened fire on the two young men. Mr Dalakov attempted to run away, and was pursued. In the presence of numerous witnesses, Mr Dalakov was then hit by a car, but nevertheless managed to limp to the courtyard of a nearby nursery. A man from the car fired at him with his pistol and he fell face down on the ground. Several other armed men arrived at the scene, one of whom fired several times at Mr Dalakov’s body. Having ascertained that he was dead, one of the men placed a live hand grenade under his body. The police and Special Forces arrived and arrested the FSB officers, who refused to identify themselves. Bomb disposal experts deactivated the grenade.

This version of events was contested by the Russian Government. Although a number of witnesses reported that Mr Dalakov had not offered any resistance to the officers, and that he had been unarmed, the officers of the Ingushetia FSB claimed that he had been “‘liquidated’ […] because he had offered armed resistance”. The officers stated that they had identified themselves as the FSB and had shouted at the men to lie down, but Mr Dalakov had not complied. No further investigation into Mr Dalakov’s killing took place, despite the applicant’s persistent requests.

In his application to the European Court, lodged in May 2009, Mr Dalakov’s uncle argued substantive and procedural violations of the right to life (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights), given the killing of his nephew and the authorities’ subsequent failure to carry out an effective investigation. The Court found that Russia had violated Mr Dalakov’s right to life on both counts, and concluded that:

the actions of the authorities in respect of the planning, control and execution of the operation were not sufficient to safeguard the life of Mr Apti Dalakov.”

The Court also stated that:

the account of the FSB officer, that he fired just one warning shot and had to use lethal force only after seeing the grenade in Mr Apti Dalakov’s hand in front of him, does not appear either plausible or convincing.”

Mr Dalakov’s uncle was awarded €60,000 in damages. He said:

“For me, the most important thing has been to prove that my nephew was not a criminal, but the victim of crime, committed by the security forces. It is essential that those who were party to my nephew’s murder are identified and punished.”