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Strasbourg Decision On Chechen Killings Welcomed

European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg (epa) NAZRAN, October 13, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Human rights advocates have welcomed a decision by the European Court of Human Rights to hold Russia responsible for the killing of five Chechens in 2000.

Arsen Sakalov of the Ingushetia-based human rights group Russian Legislative Initiative, told RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service that the October 12 ruling "gives hope to people" in the region.

"After all their unsuccessful attempts to see justice served, somewhere there's a court that will actually represent their interests," Sakalov said, noting, however, that "in order to take your case to the European Court, you first need to exhaust every last legal option available through the state."

The ruling ordered Russia to pay relatives of the victims more than $280,000 in damages.

The five Chechens, members of the same family, were found dead in their home in February 2002. The bodies, including a woman who was nine months pregnant and a one-year-old, all had gunshot wounds and there was evidence of looting.