Memorial applies to European Court over conduct of investigation into murder of Natalya Estemirova

Source: HRO.org (info), 12/09/11

· Human Rights Defenders · Chechnya · Victims of Conflicts

Russian human rights defenders have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights over the lack of progress in the investigation into the 2009 Grozny murder of Natalya Estemirova, an activist working with the Memorial Human Rights Centre.

On Friday 9 September Memorial Human Rights Centre, the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre and the Estemirov family’s lawyer, Roman Karpinsky, submitted a joint application to the European Court in Strasbourg. The application states that the investigation into the murder of Natalya Estemirova has been “ineffective” and the European Convention on Human Rights has been violated in the course of the investigation. The human rights defenders pointed in particular to the victims’ lack of access to the materials of the case as a result of which they could not ensure that the investigation was effective, Polit.ru reports, citing Interfax.

On 8 September Aleksei Vasilkov, the deputy head of the General Prosecutor’s Office for the North Caucasus federal district, said that a suspect had been identified in the murder of human rights defender Natalya Estemirova and an arrest warrant had been issued. In Vasilkov’s opinion, the crime could therefore be considered solved.

Natalya Estemirova, human rights defender, journalist and staff member of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, was abducted and later shot dead by unknown persons in Grozny on 15 July 2009. Two criminal investigations have been conducted as a result of the murder: in Chechnya under the article of the Criminal Code relating to abduction; and in Ingushetia under articles relating to murder and to illegal sale of firearms. These two investigations before long were combined into one and taken over by the Main Investigative Committee of the Southern Federal District. According to the Investigative Committee, the chief motive for the murder was Natalya Estemirova’s human rights work, and the investigators believe the murder was revenge by a group of Chechen insurgents headed by Islam Uspakhadzhiev.