Family members of those killed in the Beslan school terrorist attack in 2004 won a case against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The court awarded the petitioners a total of EUR 2.995 million as a compensation for moral damages, as well as EUR 88,000 in reimbursement for court costs, as reported by Kommersant.
According to the report, the ECHR acknowledged that the Russian authorities were in a difficult situation and took the necessary measures to rescue the hostages. At the same time, the Strasbourg Court took into consideration that Article 2 (on the right to life) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights was violated.
"The applicants argue that the state did not fulfill its obligations to protect the victims, and that the investigation of the events was incomplete. Some plaintiffs also believe that the operation to release the hostages was not worked out sufficiently and that many deaths were caused by the unjustified use of force by the authorities," the ECHR secretariat reported.
The ECHR's resolution states that the authorities had specific information at their disposal about the terrorist act planned in the region against the educational institution. The ECHR decided that nevertheless, no sufficient steps were taken to stop the assembly and training of the terrorists, the safety measures at the school were not intensified, and neither the school administration nor the populace was warned about the threat. The court also found that the operational headquarters lacked formal leadership during the terrorist act, which led to shortcomings in the decision-making process and in the coordination of activities among the agencies involved.
"Some will receive €5 thousand, some – €20 thousand. These amounts are not enough to compensate for moral damages. But the main goal was not to compensate for moral damages – it was to identify those responsible for the terrorist attack," said Aneta Gadieva, a representative of the Mothers of Beslan Committee.
The victims intend to appeal to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation with a demand to bring to justice the officials who were negligent and did not take the necessary actions during the terrorist act, as they were previously denied the ability to do so.
At the Kremlin, the court's conclusions that the authorities could have minimized the tragic consequences of the terrorist attack were called "purely theoretical" and "absolutely unacceptable." "We – the country that has been repeatedly attacked by terrorists – cannot agree with such a statement," said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Russian president. The Ministry of Justice is going to appeal against the decision of the ECHR. The department also noted that a number of the court’s conclusions are not substantiated and that the argument used is "inconclusive and does not correspond with the evidence presented by the Russian authorities."
On September 1, 2004, 30 terrorists sieged a school in the town of Beslan in North Ossetia. More than a thousand hostages, mostly children, were held for three days without food and water, until September 3rd, when security forces took the building by storm. As a result of both the terrorist attack and the counter-terrorist operation, 334 people were killed, including 318 hostages, 186 of which were children. In addition, ten Special Forces officers, two employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and 15 militiamen were killed. 810 people were injured and 126 remain disabled.