Russia accepts Beslan ruling

Russia accepts Beslan ruling

A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights criticising the Russian response to the Beslan siege which left hundreds dead would not be contested, according to the justice ministry in Moscow.

In April the court found “serious failings” in the response to the 2004 school siege in which 330 people, including 186 children, died.

It ordered Russia to pay €2.9 million in compensation to the 409 surviving hostages and relatives of those killed.

Masked men and women, wearing bombs, entered Beslan’s School Number One opening fire at a ceremony marking the beginning of the school year.

The hostages were forced into the sports hall beneath explosives strung from the basketball hoops while the terrorists demanded that Russia withdraw from Chechnya.

Initially Moscow said the April judgement was “absolutely unacceptable”, based on conclusions that were “not backed up”.

But earlier this week an appeals court rejected the Kremlin’s challenge, effectively finalising the decision.

“We can say that a line under the litigation has been drawn,” said Russian lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin, according to the state-run Tass news agency.

“But its outcome satisfies neither of the sides, neither the injured party, which thinks the sum of compensation is not enough, nor the Russian Federation as it means that the court has recognised that the hostages’ right to life was violated during the operation to free them due to the excessive use of force,” Trepashkin said.

The April verdict said Russia, including President Vladimir Putin, had not done enough to prevent the siege, despite having “sufficiently specific information” about the plans.

It ruled that use of “lethal force by the security forces” had been partly responsible for the death toll among hostages.

The court said “powerful weapons such as tank cannon, grenade launchers and flame-throwers” had been used at the school.

The 2004 siege ended on the third day with two large explosions and intense gunfire. Witnesses said the authorities’ assault was chaotic, saying that soldiers used excessive force and heavy weaponry.

Only one of the hostage takers was caught alive and faced trial.

Russia said, in response to the April verdict, that the siege “needed a more in-depth and balanced examination” and that the decision could “create problems for preventing acts of terror”.

Russia’s investigation into the siege stalled several years ago.

Beslan victims. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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