Published: 3 Jul 2008
Ruslan Umarov v Russia
Case No. 12712/02
Judgment date: 3 July 2008
In the early hours of 27 May 2000, a group of about 30 soldiers, dressed in camouflage and some of them masked, broke into the applicant’s house where he lived with his family. The soldiers beat the applicant and dragged him out into the courtyard, kicked him and struck him with rifle butts. After the applicant’s son rushed out into the courtyard, demanding to know why the soldiers were beating his father, they seized him, beat, threw him into the back of their truck, and left. Later that day the servicemen returned and took the applicant’s son’s passport and student identity card. The applicant was taken to hospital where he was examined and diagnosed with injuries to his face, chest and feet and two fractured ribs.
After his release from hospital, the applicant submitted a written complaint about the attack on his house and the detention of his son. He requested that those responsible be identified and prosecuted and that his son’s whereabouts be established. The applicant later learned that two other men had been detained with his son, who had been released on payment of a ransom.
In September 2000 the applicant was informed that a criminal investigation had been opened into his son’s disappearance on 30 May 2000. According to the Government’s submission, the investigation had been suspended and resumed on eighteen occasions. It failed to identify the alleged perpetrators or to establish applicant’s son’ whereabouts.
The Court held that there had been both substantive and procedural violations of Article 2 concerning the disappearance and presumed death of the applicant’s son and the failure to conduct an adequate investigation into the circumstances of the incident.
On the basis of the evidence available, the Court was unable to determine a violation of Article 3 beyond all reasonable doubt in relation to the ill treatment of the applicant’s son.
The Court, however, found three violations of Article 3 in relation to the applicant. It firstly held that the applicant’s psychological suffering as a result of his son’s disappearance and his inability to find out what had happened to him reached the threshold of Article 3. Furthermore, as the evidence had shown the applicant had been beaten and sustained injuries when his son was apprehended and that the authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation into that ill-treatment.
The Court held that the applicant’s son’s unacknowledged detention also amounted to a grave violation of Article 5.
In consideration of Article 13, violations were held in conjunction with Article 2 and the ill treatment of the applicant under Article 3.
Finally, it was held that the Government’s refusal to submit the file of the criminal case opened in connection with the disappearance amounted to a failure to comply with Article 38(1)(a).
The applicant was awarded EUR 40,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damages and EUR 15,000 in respect of pecuniary damages.