The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled on the kidnapping last year of Salman Tepsurkaev, 19, a chat moderator on the Chechen Telegram channel 1ADAT. The kidnappers tortured him and forced him sit on the bottle… The video filmed at the same time was published on the Internet. And the whereabouts of Tepsurkayev have not yet been established.
ESPC admittedthat the Russian authorities violated Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“Prohibition of torture” and “The right to liberty and security of person”) and awarded Tepsurkaev compensation in the amount of 26 thousand euros.
The court pointed to the involvement of the Chechen authorities in the ill-treatment of Tepsurkayev, as well as the ineffective investigation of his abduction by Russia, emphasize human rights defenders of the Committee against Torture (CPT).
“The ECHR admitted that Salman was a victim of abduction and torture by state agents, that is, Chechen security officials. He was unlawfully deprived of his liberty and subjected to cruel and degrading treatment, which is captured on video. The court found that the state did not protect Salman, ”said Olga Sadovskaya, head of the department of international legal protection.
She noted that at the time of the appeal to the ECHR, the CPT officers could only assert for sure that Tepsurkayev had been abducted and tortured. Therefore, human rights defenders filed complaints under Art. 3 and 5 of the Convention, and not under Art. 2 (right to life). “At the same time, we still had the hope that he was alive and that our efforts could save him. Now there is no hope left. But the ECHR makes a decision on the facts that took place at the time of filing the complaint, ”she added.
Salman Tepsurkaev was abducted on September 6, 2020 in Gelendzhik. He moderated the 1ADAT Telegram channel chat about human rights violations in Chechnya. Eyewitnesses said that the abductors showed the identity cards of the Interior Ministry officers.
On the evening of September 7, Tepsurkayev’s phone remained switched on. According to the geolocation data, Salman’s relatives found out that the mobile phone was on the territory of the regiment of the patrol and post of the police in Grozny. The barracks of this unit, according to former police officer Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, were used to contain detainees who tortured and killed.
On the same day, September 7, 2020, a man with the nickname “Okhotnik” published a video in the chat of the Telegram channel 1ADAT, in which a naked Salman Tepsurkaev in Chechen language scolds himself and the channel, after which he sits on a bottle.
On September 11, the CPR lawyers sent a complaint to the ECHR about the violation of Tepsurkaev’s rights.
Human rights activists also handed over to the investigation evidence of the involvement of Interior Ministry officers in the disappearance of Tepsurkaev: a video from a street surveillance camera, which recorded the moment of the abduction. Information about the abductors and the cars captured by the camera was also transferred to the UK. One of the cars belonged to an active Chechen police officer.
After four decisions to refuse to initiate a case in Chechnya (“due to the absence of corpus delicti”) and the transfer of the inspection materials to the Krasnodar Territory, a criminal case was initiated by the Gelendzhik Investigation Department under clause “a” of Part 2 of Art. 126 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (abduction of a person committed by a group of persons by prior conspiracy). This happened only on November 27, 2020, 2.5 months after Salman’s abduction.
In May 2021, the Investigative Committee sent a criminal case to the Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen Republic, arguing that “the investigative and procedural actions in the territory of the Krasnodar Territory have been carried out,” and the persons involved in the crime are probably on the territory of Chechnya. At the moment, the investigation into the case is ongoing.
Investigators and the courts of the Krasnodar Territory and the Chechen Republic refused to recognize Tepsurkaev’s common-law wife, Elizaveta, as a victim. Salman and Elizabeth lived together after the conclusion of a religious marriage according to Muslim customs, but did not manage to register their marriage at the registry office due to quarantine restrictions introduced in March 2020.