In the case of Malika Dzhamayeva and Others v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Christos Rozakis, President,
Sverre Erik Jebens,
George Nicolaou, judges,
and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 2 December 2010,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
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. The case originated in an application (no. 26980/06) 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 four Russian nationals, listed in paragraph 7 below (“the applicants”), on 21 May 2006 and 31 July 2008.
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. The applicants were represented by Mr D. Itslayev, a lawyer practising in Grozny. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
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. On 4 July 2008 the Court decided to apply Rule 41 of the Rules of Court and to grant priority treatment to the application and to give notice of the application to the Government. Under the provisions of former Article 29 § 3 of the Convention it decided to examine the merits of the application at the same time as its admissibility.
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. On 29 August 2008 the President of the First Section decided, under Rule 38 A of the Rules of Court, to allow the second to fourth applicants (see below) to join the proceedings and decided that the parties should submit further written observations under Rule 54 § 2 (c) of the Rules of Court.
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. The President of the Chamber acceded to the Government’s request not to make publicly accessible the documents from the criminal investigation file deposited with the Registry in connection with the application (Rule 33 of the Rules of Court).
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. The Government objected to the joint examination of the admissibility and merits of the application and to the application of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. Having considered the Government’s objection, the Court dismissed it.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
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. The applicants are:
1) Ms Malika Dzhamayeva, born in 1957
2) Ms Kheda Mamayeva, born in 1978,
3) Mr Imam Mukayev, born in 2002, and
4) Mr Ovkhad Mukayev, born in 2004.
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. The applicants live in Katyr-Yurt, in the Chechen Republic.
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. The first applicant is the mother of Khamid Mukayev, born in 1978. The second applicant is Khamid Mukayev’s wife and the third and fourth applicants are their children.
A. Disappearance of Khamid Mukayev
1. The applicants’ account
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. At the material time the first applicant lived with her son Khamid Mukayev, the second to fourth applicants and other relatives at 10 Pervogo Maya Street (in the submitted documents the address is also referred to as 10 Pervogo Maya Lane and 25 Pervomayskaya Street), Katyr-Yurt, in the Achkhoy-Martanovskiy district of the Chechen Republic.
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. On the night of 15 September 2004 the above-mentioned persons and P.B. were staying at the applicants’ house.
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. Between 4 and 5 a.m. on 16 September 2004 a convoy of military vehicles, including an armoured personnel carrier (APC) and Gazel and UAZ vehicles, arrived at the applicants’ gate. The vehicles had no registration numbers. A group of about twenty-five to thirty armed masked men in camouflage uniforms got out of the vehicles. Some of them stayed outside, securing the perimeter of the applicants’ house.
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. At about 4 a.m. on 16 September 2004 the first applicant was woken up by the barking of her dog. Shortly afterwards seven or eight armed masked men in camouflage uniforms and bullet-proof jackets burst into the house.
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. The intruders did not introduce themselves or explain the reason for their actions. They pointed their guns at the first applicant and her relatives and ordered them in unaccented Russian to get outside. The applicants inferred that the intruders were servicemen. In the courtyard the first applicant saw a large group of armed servicemen in camouflage uniforms and masks. The servicemen tied the first applicant’s and her relatives’ hands with adhesive tape. They also tied the first applicant and her other son, Kh.M., to a shed post. The first applicant’s eighty-four-year-old mother‑in‑law, Ms M. M., stayed in the house. In a state of stress, Ms M. M. started shouting and the servicemen hit her several times with their rifle butts.
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. Meanwhile some of the servicemen who were in the house started searching it and some burst into the room where the second to fourth applicants and Khamid Mukayev were staying. They pointed their guns at the second applicant and ordered her in unaccented Russian to stay quiet. The servicemen then ordered Khamid Mukayev to lie down. After a quick search of the room they took Khamid Mukayev, who was in his underwear, to the yard. The second applicant tried to follow them but was forced back into the room under the threat of being shot dead. In the yard one of the servicemen took the tape off the first applicant’s mouth and asked her where her husband was. She replied that she did not know and that he had left the family in 1992.
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. Having checked the house and attic, the servicemen started beating Khamid Mukayev up, requesting him to give them his passport. He replied that the first applicant had it. The servicemen untied her hands and brought her into the house. In the house she saw her mother-in-law Ms M. M., who was leaning against the wall and coughing up blood. The first applicant gave Khamid Mukayev’s passport to the servicemen. At that moment one of the servicemen in the yard ordered the others to retreat. While the first applicant looked back to where Ms M. M. was standing, she saw that the latter had fallen to the ground. Shortly after this the first applicant heard military vehicles. She realised that the servicemen were taking Khamid Mukayev away and asked them not to. They ordered her to remain silent and then two servicemen took the first applicant and her other son into the passageway, tied their hands and legs with adhesive tape and put them on to the floor. After asking the first applicant “What is wrong with your granny?” and received the reply that she was Category 1 disabled, the servicemen closed the door and left, taking Khamid Mukayev with them.
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. The abduction of Khamid Mukayev was witnessed by a number of the applicants’ neighbours.
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. At about 4 a.m. on 16 September 2004 the applicants’ neighbour A.Kh., who lived in Pervogo Maya Street, was woken up by the noise of military vehicles. When he went outside he saw a convoy consisting of an APC with a large number of servicemen on it and Gazel and UAZ vehicles on the Pervogo Maya Street. He immediately went back into his house. Some fifteen to twenty minutes later he again heard the noise of the vehicles coming from the street. When he looked outside his window, he saw the same vehicles reversing. Shortly after this his nephew I.M. came to his house and told him that Russian servicemen had taken away Khamid Mukayev and that they had killed Ms M. M.
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. During the night of 15-16 September 2004 M.F., who lived at 12 Pervogo Maya Street, was woken up by the noise of vehicles. When she looked outside the window, she saw an APC, a white Gazel vehicle, a light‑coloured UAZ vehicle and a large group of armed masked men going towards the applicants’ house. The vehicles had no licence plates. A group of servicemen secured the perimeter of the house. M.F. went home to get dressed but when she got outside, the APC was already driving back and the servicemen sitting on it pointed their guns at her. Once the APC had moved away, M.F. went to the applicants’ house and was told about the abduction of Khamid Mukayev and the murder of Ms M. M.
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. On the night of 15-16 September 2004 A.M. was woken up by noise coming from the applicants’ house. When he came closer to the applicants’ house through his vegetable garden he saw Gazel and UAZ vehicles parked at the applicants’ gate. Afraid to approach closer, he returned home. Some twenty minutes later I.M. came to his house and told him that servicemen had abducted Khamid Mukayev and killed Ms M. M.
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. The description of the events of 16 September 2004 is based on the first applicant’s submissions in her application forms of 21 May and 25 July 2006 and the applicants’ account given in the application form of 11 March 2008; accounts given to the applicants’ representatives by the following witnesses: an account by P.B. given on 5 March 2008; an account by A.Kh. given on 14 February 2008; an account by M.F. given on 12 February 2008; an account by A.M. given on 15 February 2008; an account by the first applicant made on 11 March 2008, and an account made by the second applicant on 20 February 2008.
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. The applicants have had no news of Khamid Mukayev since 16 September 2004.
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