The European rights court ruled against Russia on Thursday in the case of Russian troops storming a school in 2004, which later came to be known as the ‘Beslan massacre.’
At least 180 children were killed in consequence of Russia’s overstepping and use of brute force. 750 people were wounded when security forces used “tank cannon, grenade launchers and flamethrowers” while trying to free more than 1,000 hostages at the school in the southern Russian town of Beslan.
The Beslan school siege lasted for three days and involved the capture of over 1,100 people as hostages including 777 children, and ended with the death of at least 385 people.
Russia’s government said it would appeal against the ruling. “We cannot agree with such a conclusion in a country that has been a victim of terrorist attacks multiple times,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, said that the Russia’s military tactics during the incident “contributed to the casualties among the hostages” and did not respect the hostages’ “right to life” by failing to restrict lethal force to what was “absolutely necessary”.
The court ordered Russia to pay 2.955 million euros ($3.14 million) in damages and 88,000 euros in legal costs.
The court also said Russian authorities had been aware of a possible attack on public places such as schools but had not prepared sufficiently. “While certain security measures had been taken, in general the preventive measures in the present case could be characterized as inadequate,” it said.
A lawyer who represented victims of the siege and their families said they had only achieved a partial victory, and the focus would now be on trying to hold to account Russian officials over their failings.
“We are not entirely happy with the decision,” said Sergei Knyazkin, a lawyer for campaign group the Beslan Mothers Committee. “Three million euros in compensation is not enough, because you cannot measure the death of children in such figures.”
“The victims insist that the authorities carry the blame for the badly-conducted operation to free the hostages in Beslan,” Knyazkin told Reuters.