KHIZRIYEV v. RUSSIA (European Court of Human Rights)

Communicated on 28 January 2019

THIRD SECTION

Application no.12211/15
Ali Lakayevich KHIZRIYEV
against Russia
lodged on 19 February 2015

STATEMENT OF FACTS

The applicant, Mr Ali Khizriyev, is a Russian national, who was born in 1957 and lives in Mekenskaya, Naurskiy district, in the Chechen Republic. He is represented before the Court by lawyers of “MateriChechni”, an NGO based in Grozny.

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.

A.  The circumstances of the case

1.  Attack on the applicant

At the material time, all of the roads leading to and from the Mekenskaya settlement had military checkpoints, where every passing vehicle was checked and its passage logged in a register.

At about midnight on the night between 4 and 5 April 2006 a group of eight to twelve men in camouflage uniforms arrived at the applicant’s house. He was at home with his wife, their minor children and other relatives. The group of men – who were in balaclavas, had automatic rifles, and primarily spoke Russian, although one of them also spoke Chechen – forced the door and entered the house. The applicant thought that they were from a law-enforcement agency.

The men ordered everyone to look away, then made the applicant lie down on the floor and demanded that he show them his identity documents. Then they asked whether he had any guns in the house. After the applicant replied that he had no guns, they fired three shots at him and drove off in two grey UAZ military-type vehicles.

The applicant was immediately taken by his relatives to the Naurskiy District Hospital. There it was established that he had suffered a penetrating gunshot wound to the left part of the chest, as well as a penetrating gunshot wound to the right forearm with an elbow fracture. It appears that, as a result of the injuries sustained, the applicant suffers from a disability.

2.  Subsequent events

Shortly after the incident, at about 12.30 a.m. on 5 April 2006, two grey UAZ military-type vehicles arrived at checkpoint no. 172 on the road leading from Mekenskaya to the Levoberezhnoye settlement. The checkpoint was manned by local police under the supervision of Officer S.G. He observed the two vehicles, with twelve men inside, pulling up to the gate when Sergeant N. approached the first vehicle and requested that they show their identity documents. The driver showed him a service identity card, then the driver of the second car showed another one.

Then the Sergeant informed Officer S.G. that the drivers had shown him identity service cards of the Federal Security Service along with special pink passes authorising them to cross checkpoints without having their vehicles searched. One of the vehicles had an official registration plate containing the characters У328 АУ95. As the windows of both vehicles were not tinted, it could be seen that the men inside were in military-type camouflage uniforms and that they were armed.

After that both vehicles were allowed to go through the checkpoint and they drove off.

About ten or fifteen minutes later, the officers at the checkpoint received a message from the police headquarters that a grey UAZ military-type vehicle with armed men in it was sought on suspicion of involvement in a serious crime. Officer S.G. replied that two vehicles matching the description had just passed through their checkpoint.

3.  Official investigation into the incident

On 5 April 2006 the Naurskiy district prosecutor’s office (“the investigators”) opened criminal case no. 60027 under Articles 30 and 105 of the Russian Criminal Code (attempted murder).

On 5 April 2006 the investigators questioned Officer S.G. who provided a statement in similar terms to those set out in the applicant’s subsequent submission to the Court. He confirmed that Sergeant N. had spoken with the drivers of both cars and that one of the vehicles had had the registration plate У328 АУ95.

On 6 April 2006 the investigators questioned the applicant’s sister-in-law Ms Kh.A. who stated that on the night between 5 and 6 April 2006 she had stayed at the applicant’s family’s house and had witnessed the incident. She provided a statement in similar terms to those set out in the applicant’s submission to the Court.

On 2 May 2006 the applicant was granted victim status in the criminal case and questioned. He provided a statement in similar terms to those set out in his submission to the Court. In addition, he stated that he had no theories concerning the likely reasons for the perpetrators’ attack on him.

On 5 April 2007 the investigators suspended the investigation in the criminal case as a result of a failure to identify the perpetrators. The applicant was not informed of that decision.

It is unclear what steps the investigators took between 2007 and 2014 and whether the applicant was kept informed of any such steps. It appears that the applicant lodged several complaints with law-enforcement agencies, trying to expedite the investigation and to assist in establishing the identities of the perpetrators.

On 6 March 2014 the applicant requested that the investigators provide him with a copy of the ballistic expert’s examination of the evidence, a copy of the crime scene examination report and a copy of the record of the interview of Sergeant N. On 24 April 2014 the investigators refused to provide the requested documents, as it was not mandatory under the law, and stated that he could have copies of other documents only upon completion of the investigation.

On 17 April 2014 the applicant requested that the investigators provide him with a copy of the previous decision, taken to suspend the investigation. It appears that no reply was given to that request.

4.  Proceedings against the investigators

On 25 August 2014 the applicant complained to the Naurskiy District Court that the investigation in the criminal case had been ineffective. In particular, the investigators had failed to take basic steps and such protraction could be explained by the perpetrators having themselves been representatives of law-enforcement agencies. He requested that the proceedings be resumed and that the court oblige the investigators to carry out an effective investigation.

On 8 September 2014 the Naurskiy District Court refused to examine the applicant’s complaint on the merits as, on 4 September 2014, the investigators had overruled the suspension of 5 April 2007 and resumed the investigation.

On 17 September 2014 the applicant appealed against the above decision to the Chechnya Supreme Court. He reiterated his arguments and added that the investigation had been resumed in order “to terminate the proceedings concerning this complaint”.

On 21 October 2014 the Chechnya Supreme Court upheld the decision of 8 September 2014 on appeal.

5.  Civil proceedings for compensation

On 25 March 2014 the applicant filed a civil claim for damages against the State authorities with the Leninskiy District Court in Grozny (“the District Court”), claiming 1,000,000 roubles. He described the circumstances of the attack on him and complained of the lack of a “desire on the part of the authorities” to carry out a thorough investigation into the incident. He stressed that due to the incident and the lack of a proper investigation he had become partially disabled and was suffering mentally.

On 11 April 2014 the District Court rejected his complaint as, in the absence of conclusions to that end reached in the criminal investigation, the State’s responsibility had not been proven.

On 17 April 2014 the applicant appealed to the Chechnya Supreme Court, which on 29 May 2014 upheld the above decision.

B.  Relevant domestic law

For a summary of the relevant domestic law see Abakarova v. Russia, no. 16664/07, §§ 59-62 and §§ 68-70, 15 October 2015.

COMPLAINTS

The applicant complains under Article 2 of the Convention that the attack of 4 April 2006 constituted a violation of his right to life by State agents and that no effective investigation into the matter has been carried out. Under Article 13 of the Convention, he alleges that he has been deprived of effective remedies in respect of the aforementioned violations.

QUESTIONS TO THE PARTIES

1.  Has the applicant complied with the six-month time-limit laid down in Article 35 § 1 of the Convention?

2.  Has the applicant’s right to life, ensured by Article 2 of the Convention, been violated in the present case?

3.  Having regard to the procedural protection of the right to life (see Salman v. Turkey [GC], no. 21986/93, § 104, ECHR 2000-VII), have the domestic authorities complied with the obligation to carry out an effective investigation of the attack on the applicant as required by Article 2 of the Convention?

4.  Did the applicant have at his disposal effective domestic remedies for his complaints under Article 2 as required by Article 13 of the Convention?

5.  The Government are invited to produce copies of the entire contents of criminal case file no. 60027 opened in connection with the attack on the applicant on 4 April 2006. They are also invited to include a list of steps, in chronological order, reflecting the actions taken by the authorities in the criminal proceedings to date.

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