Beslan Relatives File Appeal in Strasbourg

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 26

A group of relatives of the victims of the September 2004 Beslan tragedy have filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, charging that their rights to life, to an objective investigation and to an effective legal defense as set forth in the European Convention on Human Rights were violated. ITAR-Tass, on June 26, quoted Ella Kesaeva, leader of the Voice of Beslan public committee, which initiated the 50-page complaint, as saying it was signed by 89 people and set out the victims’ version of events and the facts relating to their own investigation, which, in the view of the victims, prove that senior military and civilian officials are to blame for the deaths of the hostages. “We enclosed with the complaint the copies of all requests we filed with the courts that examined aspects of the terrorist act, which have been unjustifiably rejected,” Kesaeva said.

A report by State Duma deputy Yury Savelyev found that federal troops fired grenades into Beslan’s School No. 1 while hostages were still inside and that the commandos’ actions may have prompted the bloody firefight that killed 331 hostages, more than half of whom were children (Chechnya Weekly, June 1, 2006).

Earlier this month, the Truth of Beslan NGO reported that North Ossetian police were warned several weeks before the Beslan attack that rebels were planning a major hostage-taking attack in the republic. As the Moscow Times reported on June 20, the Truth of Beslan website posted a photocopy of an August 18, 2004 teletype message from North Ossetia’s deputy interior minister, identified as Batrbek Dzutsev, to police chiefs throughout the republic specifically warning that rebels were planning to take hostages at a civilian facility. The teletype message said the rebels would congregate in areas adjacent to the border between North Ossetia and Ingushetia in mid-August to plan an attack modeled after the 1995 Chechen rebel raid on the southern town of Budennovsk. In three other teletype messages to local police chiefs posted on the Truth of Beslan website, Dzutsev and other senior police officials demanded that security be beefed up at the Ingush-Ossetian border and at schools to prevent terrorist attacks on September 1, the first day of school. They also instructed policemen on the ground to make dirt roads from Ingushetia to North Ossetia unfit for automobile traffic.

A court found three Beslan police officers guilty of negligence for failing to stop the gunmen, but they were immediately amnestied. On June 27, the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria found the police chief of Ingushetia’s Malgobek district, Mukhazhir Yevloev, and his deputy, Akhmed Kotiyev, guilty of negligence for allegedly failing to prevent the militants who attacked Beslan from setting up a training and staging camp in Ingushetia.