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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Is Blamed for 5 Killings in Grozny

STRASBOURG, France -- The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the Russian state was responsible for the unlawful killings of five Chechens during a sweep by military forces in Grozny six years ago.

The court also said Russia did not properly investigate the execution-style killings and ordered Moscow to pay the victims' relatives more than 227,000 euros ($285,000) in damages.

Thursday's verdict was the second in three months against Russia in cases concerning the Chechen war. The court also held military forces responsible for the disappearance and presumed death of a young man in the region in 2000.

The lawsuit against Russia was lodged by the Estamirov family after one family member was informed that his father, brother, pregnant sister-in-law and her 1-year old son, and uncle had been shot dead during a so-called "mopping up" operation by the army in Grozny in February 2000. Their house and car had been set on fire, and their property had been looted.

The human rights court ruled it was undisputable that the five were victims of unlawful killings and that the executions were attributable to the Russian state.

"The court noted that the death certificates recorded the date of deaths as Feb. 5, 2000, the same day as the killings that occurred in the neighboring settlement of Noviye Aldy.

The court further noted that, at that time, the district was under the control of the federal forces, the court said in its judgment.

It said the investigation into the incidents was plagued by delays and produced no tangible results.

No one was charged with the crimes, the court said.

"This decision does not, of course, bring back ... parents. Still, finally, it feels like we can start putting this behind us," Ruslan Estamirov, one of the relatives of the victims, said in a statement released in Moscow.

Russia has three months to appeal Thursday's verdict.

Some 200 cases concerning killings and disappearances during the Chechen war are still pending in Strasbourg.

An estimated 100,000 civilians, soldiers and insurgents have died in Chechnya in the two conflicts since 1994. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced from their homes.

Human rights groups also have reported mass disappearances, blaming them on pro-Moscow Chechen security forces and federal troops.

While local authorities contend that the republic is growing more stable each year, activists insist that widespread dangers and rights violations are still a fact of life.