The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Russia on Tuesday for “inadequate investigation” in the murder of Natalia Estemirova, an activist who denounced crimes allegedly committed by law enforcement officers in Chechnya.
Posted on Aug 31, 2021 at 10:19 am
Estemirova, who works with the Russian NGO Memorial and works for the Novaïa Gazeta newspaper, was kidnapped and shot in the head and another in the chest on July 15, 2009.
To date, no one has been charged with the murder of Natalia Estemirova. The main suspect, Chechen activist Alkhazur Bashaev, was never arrested, according to Russian authorities.
The ECHR, who was arrested by the victim’s sister, believes that the Russian authorities “opened the investigation quickly and carried out investigations in the days following the crime”. “A suspect has been identified and charged,” the court also stated.
European judges, however, point out that “certain inconsistencies in the expert statements have not been resolved” and stress that “investigators have not explained why no trace of the DNA of the person responsible for the murder (or) of persons belonging to his illegal armed group belong to, is accused “. was not found”.
They also reveal that the Russian government “failed to provide most of the documents in the case.”
The ECHR therefore condemned Russia for “lack of adequate investigation” and for breach of its “obligation to provide the necessary facilities to investigate a case”. It imposed a payment of 20,000 euros on the victim’s sister for “non-pecuniary damage”.
At the same time, the court also found that the evidence presented to it by the victim’s sister did not support the conclusion that the Russian state was involved in the murder.
In a statement from the European Human Rights Advocacy Center, Lana Estemirova, the victim’s daughter, said she was “happy that the court concluded that there was no proper investigation,” but pointed to an “extremely disappointing verdict ” there.
“It was an unsolvable situation because the court concluded that there was insufficient evidence of the complicity of the Russian authorities in the murder of my mother, but the Russian authorities themselves did not provide enough elements to the court,” she complained. “This is not a way of developing a fair judgment”.
The Russian human rights organization Memorial regretted on its website that the ECHR “did not recognize the authorities’ responsibility for the death of Natalia Estemirova”.