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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Strasbourg Court Hears First Disappearance Case

APBazorkina, left, standing with an adviser in the European court on Thursday.
STRASBOURG, France -- The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday heard that Russian forces allegedly detained and killed a young man while capturing a Chechen village, in the first disappearance case from Chechnya to be dealt with by the court.

Fatima Bazorkina filed the complaint at the court in 2001, after she saw television footage of a Russian officer interrogating her son as troops were taking over the village of Alkhan-Kala.

The officer orders soldiers to shoot and "finish off" her son, Khadzhi-Murat Yandiyev, at the end of the footage, her lawyers said.

Bazorkina's son disappeared six years ago, and she saw the footage in February 2000, the court heard. Her visits to prisons and detention centers and a criminal investigation into his disappearance, which closed in 2004, were fruitless.

Bazorkina is suing the Russian government for violating the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty that is legally binding in all European countries. She accuses federal forces of killing her son and said his disappearance caused her anguish and emotional distress.

The court will take several months to reach a ruling, court spokeswoman Stephanie Klein said. She said 200 similar cases were pending before the court.

It was not established at Thursday's hearing whether Yandiyev had joined the separatist movement and fought for an independent Chechnya, Klein said.

In a separate development, several Russian and international human rights groups are urging the European Union to toughen its stance toward the conflict in Chechnya.

In a letter sent to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Wednesday, the groups criticized a statement issued by Britain as current president of the EU that welcomed recent parliamentary elections in Chechnya as "an important step towards broader representation of a range of views in Chechen society."

The signatories, which include Memorial and the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, said the elections and earlier votes were a "tightly controlled cosmetic measure that ... resulted in the establishment of a brutal local regime in Chechnya, responsible for systematic and grave human rights abuses."

United Russia won the Nov. 27 elections.