July 13, 2009 / 4:25 PM / in 9 years

Family of dead Russia journalist go to Europe court

NAZRAN, Russia (Reuters) - The family of a reporter from Russia’s Ingushetia region, who was shot and killed while in police custody, said Monday they have lodged an appeal with Europe’s human rights court after previous cases collapsed.

Magomed Yevloyev’s family have also appealed to Russia’s president to intervene in the case, after the editor of the main opposition website in Russia’s southern Ingushetia region was shot in the head while being detained in a police car.

The death of Yevloyev, who owned the www.ingushetiya.ru opposition Web site, in August 2008 sparked massive protests against local authorities.

“We appealed to the European court because nothing will ever be decided in Ingushetia,” said his father Yakhya Yevloyev.

“And there is still another hope. We wrote to President Dmitry Medvedev and we await his answer,” he told Reuters.

A spokeswoman for the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, confirmed the Yevloyevs’ application has been lodged but said the court has yet to decided if it will accept the case.

Yevloyev, a vocal critic of the turbulent Ingushetia region’s previous leader Murat Zyazikov, was the highest profile journalist killed in Russia since investigative reporter and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead outside her Moscow apartment in 2006.

An initial investigation, conducted when Zyazikov was in power, concluded Yevloyev’s death was an accident after he tried to grab a police officer’s gun.

The Kremlin replaced Zyazikov with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who is now in a serious condition in a Moscow hospital after a suicide bomber blew up his car in June.

A second probe launched in March while Yevkurov was regional leader did not result in charges.

“We decided not to wait any longer... There is no independent court in Russia,” said the family’s lawyer Musa Pliyev.

The Kremlin is still involved in a protracted spat with the influential European court for refusing to ratify a reform plan which would allow it to consider more cases.

An influx of cases has come from Russia over the last year, making the country one of the biggest sources of applications to the human rights court.

Rights activists say this underscores the Kremlin’s inability to reform its own justice system despite pledges from Medvedev.

The European court’s rulings in the past have found Russian forces responsible for civilian deaths in the southern Chechnya region, which proved embarrassing for the Kremlin while operating an anti-insurgency campaign there.

Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Sophie Hares

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