Published: 4 Oct 2007

Makhauri v Russia

Case Summary

Case No. 58701/00
Judgment date: 4 October 2007 

Facts

The applicant was the victim of an abduction and attempted murder by Russian servicemen. She had left her home during the bombardment of Staropromyslovskiy region in Grozny, and returned on 22 January 2000 to check on her house and retrieve some documents. She found her home had been destroyed. She spotted soldiers loading one of their neighbour’s possessions into armoured personnel vehicles, and was seen by them. She was taken to a courtyard where the soldiers shot at her and two other women. She was wounded and lost consciousness. Subsequently, she awoke finding a diesel-soaked mattress on her legs, and her leg burnt. She spent two months in a hospital in Ingushetia to recover, and in 2002 she was officially recognised as disabled.

It appears that the applicant did not seek to make any direct contact with law-enforcement bodies immediately after the attack. Nevertheless, shortly afterwards, the events in the Staropromyslovskiy district, including the attempt on the applicant’s life, became known to the relevant authorities as a result of NGO and media reports. According the Russian Government the attack on the applicant had been the subject of two criminal investigations, opened in May 2000 and in September 2003. The investigations had established that unidentified persons wearing masks and camouflage uniforms and armed with automatic weapons were responsible for her detention and shooting. The investigation failed to identify the culprits. It did not establish the involvement of servicemen of the Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Security Service (FSB) or the army in the crime.

Judgment

The Court held that the Russian Federation breached Article 2 by virtue of the inadequacy of its investigation into the life-threatening attack on the applicant. While a criminal investigation was instigated in respect of the attack, it suffered from numerous failings. Firstly, there was an unexplained delay of three months between the allegations being made to the authorities and the commencement of the investigation. Secondly, despite the applicant’s detailed description of her attackers, no steps were made to follow up her description. Thirdly, the authorities declined to obtain a ballistics report when this could have been vital to the identification of the attackers. Fourthly, the applicant’s participation in the investigation was inadequate as she was not kept sufficiently informed of the progress of the investigation. Lastly, the investigation failed even to identify the military units and operations in the district at the relevant time.

The Court found a further breach of Article 2 in respect of the nature of the attack on the applicant. It was held that the attack used lethal force of such a degree and type as to put the applicant’s life at risk. The attack could be attributed to the Russian Federation on the basis that no alternative version of events had been put forward.

Finally, the Court found a breach of Article 13 in respect of the failure of the Russian Federation to provide an effective investigation into the violations of Article 2. The absence of a thorough and effective investigation denied the applicant the opportunity to seek identification and punishment of those responsible, placing the Russian Government in breach of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2.

The applicant was awarded EUR 50,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damages.