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ECHR finds Russia responsible for disappearance and death of Chechen man

18 June 2021

The European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) has found the Russian state responsible for the disappearance and death of a Chechen man following his detention by security forces.

The court noted that Russia had not submitted any evidence or explanation contradicting Saidakhmadov’s mother’s claim that her son was murdered by the authorities, and that therefore ‘the death of Aslanbek Saidakhmadov can be attributed to the State’.

The court ruled that the state had also failed to investigate Saidakhmadov’s disappearance. 

The court found a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention, which prohibits torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, in respect to the mental suffering of his mother, Maria Malayeva, due to the disappearance of her son and the authorities’ reaction to her condition. 

Malayeva, who was represented in court by the Committee Against Torture, was awarded €60,000 ($71,000) in compensation. 

Saidakhmadov disappeared in August 2009 and his fate remains unknown.

Saidakhmadov’s fate

According to the case facts presented in the ECHR ruling, Aslanbek Saidakhmadov was taken from his apartment in Grozny by uniformed police officers on the evening of 3 August 2009.  His mother, Maria Malayeva, was reportedly told that he was being taken to the Leninsky Police Department.  On the same night, Malayeva tried to file a statement regarding her son’s abduction by the police but this was rejected. 

According to the court, on 6 August 2009, Malayeva filed another complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office about the abduction of her son by the police and the refusal to register her statement.

The ruling states that on 22 September 2009, around 20 armed special forces officers raided Malayeva’s flat and she was told that her son, who they had detained illegally, had escaped.

The following day, around 15 armed special forces officers reportedly again came to Malayeva's flat and took her nephew, who was released several hours later. The court states that he was beaten and asked about the whereabouts of Saidakhmadov. 

In November 2009, Malayeva was informed by her sister, who lives in Astrakhan, that Saidakhmadov had come to her and was hiding there. She reportedly said that Saidakhmadov had escaped from the police on 21 September, after being tortured since his abduction on 3 August.

After 25 December 2009, Malayeva lost all contact with her son.

In January 2010, investigators informed Malayeva that her son had been taken to a police station on 5 January and released after questioning. However, he did not return home and since then his fate remains unknown.

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