Today, the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling in the case of abduction of 19-year old Salman Tepsurkayev. The court acknowledged that the Russian authorities violated Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “prohibition of torture” and “right to freedom and personal integrity”. Salman Tepsurkayev is awarded a compensation in the amount of 26 000 Euro. His whereabouts are still not established.
As we have previously reported, on 6 September 2020, Salman Tepsurkayev was abducted in Gelendzhik. He was a chat moderator of 1Adat Telegram channel which informs about violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic. Witnesses report that the abductors presented their IDs of the Ministry of the Interior officers. For twenty-four hours there was no information about the fate of Salman. But in the evening of 7 September, his phone was turned on again and the relatives managed to obtain its geolocation data, according to which Salman’s phone was on the territory of regiment of the Patrol-Guard Service of the Police named after Akhmat Kadyrov located in Grozny.
On the same day, 7 September, a person under nickname “Hunter” published a video in the chat of 1Adat Telegram-channel, in which Salman Tepsurkayev curses himself and his channel in the Chechen language, after that he attempts to mount himself on a glass bottle.
On 11 September, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the ECHR with regard to the violation of Tepsurkayev’s rights, provided by Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “prohibition of torture” and ‘right to personal integrity”.
The Committee Against Torture provided the investigative authorities with convincing evidence of the involvement of the Ministry of the Interior officers in Salman Tepsurkayev’s abduction: a video record which features Tepsurkayev’s abduction process, as well as the data on vehicles and the abductors who were filmed by the video camera at the place of the incident. In the course of public investigation, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture managed to find out that one of the cars belongs to the acting police officer from Chechnya. However, no criminal case was initiated due to “absence of the element of crime”.
After four dismissals of claims to open a criminal case issued in Chechnya, and after the materials of the check were transferred to the Krasnodar Territory, a criminal case was opened by the Investigative Department for Gelendzhik with regard to the element of crime under item “a” of Part 2, Article 126 of the Criminal Code of the RF (‘abduction of a person committed by a group of persons by previous concert”). It is worth mentioning that the criminal case was opened only on 27 November 2020, 2.5 months after Salman’s abduction.
However, in May of this year, the Investigative Department of the Krasnodar Territory submitted a criminal case to the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Chechen Republic, claiming that “the investigative and procedural activities within the Krasnodar territory are completed”, and the persons who were, possibly, involved in committing of this crime, were located in the territory of the Chechen Republic. At the present time, the investigation of the case is ongoing.
The investigators and the court of the Krasnodar Territory and the Chechen Republic refused to acknowledge Tepsurkayev’s partner wife Elizaveta to be a victim. Salman and Elizaveta were living together after they concluded a religious marriage under Muslim laws, but did not have time to register their marriage in the Civil Registry Office due to quarantine limitations introduced in March 2020.
Today, the European Court of Human Rights acknowledged that the Russian authorities violated Articles 3 and 5 (prohibition of torture and the right to personal integrity) with regard to Salman Tepsurkayev. For the part of Article 3, material and procedural violation is established. This means that the ECHR thinks that the Chechen authorities are involved in brutal treatment of Salman, as well as points to ineffective investigation of his abduction by the Russian Federation. The European Court awarded Salman Tepsurkayev a compensation in the amount of 26 000 Euro.
“The ECHR acknowledged that Salman became a victim of abduction and tortures by the state representatives, i.e., the Chechen law-enforcement. He was illegally deprived of freedom and subjected to brutal and degrading treatment, which is covered by the video. The court acknowledged that the state did not protect Salman, — head of the International Legal Remedy Department Olga Sadovskaya comments. – Apparently, a question arises, why not the violation of the right to life, why not Article 2 of the Convention? The thing is, by the moment of the application’s submittal the only thing we could claim with certainty that Salman was abducted and subjected to torture. At the same time, we still hoped that he was alive and our efforts might have saved him. Now there is no hope any more. But the ECHR passes rulings based on the facts which were available by the moment when an application was submitted”.