Interfax: Russia to Pay Damages for Beslan School Siege

Russia will abide by a European Court of Human Rights ruling requiring it to pay nearly 3 million euros ($3.6 million) in damages for the 2004 Beslan school siege, the Interfax news agency reported Tuesday, citing the Russian justice ministry.

Russia used excessive force to storm a school in the small southern Russian town seized by Islamist militants in 2004, causing a high number of hostages to be killed, the court ruled in April.

The three-day drama began when Islamist militants took more than 1,000 people hostages on the first day of the school year and called for independence for the majority-Muslim region of Chechnya.

More than 330 hostages died, including at least 180 children, when the siege ended in a gunbattle. It was the bloodiest incident of its kind in modern Russian history.

The case for damages was brought by 409 Russian nationals who either were taken hostage or injured in the incident, or were family members of those taken hostage, killed or injured, the European Court of Human Rights statement said in April.

On Tuesday, the court said in a press release that its Grand Chamber Panel had rejected a Russian government request to refer the case and said its ruling was final.

“No other actions are being contemplated by the participants in this process,” the Russian justice ministry said in comments carried by Interfax.

In its April ruling, the court said the heavy-handed way Russian forces stormed the school had “contributed to the casualties among the hostages.”

It also ruled that authorities had failed to take reasonable preventive measures, despite knowing militants were planning to attack an educational institution.

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