Russian forces killed unarmed Chechens-Euro court

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MOSCOW, Oct 4 (Reuters) Russian forces killed unarmed civilians in Chechnya, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in three separate cases today.

The Strasbourg-based court's judgments lambasted the Chechen authorities for being sluggish and unprofessional in their investigations of the killings in a Grozny suburb in January and February, 2000.

Chechen prosecutors investigated the killings only after journalist Anna Politkovskaya -- who was murdered last year -- wrote about them in a newspaper, said the Russia Justice Initiative, a group which provides Chechens with legal aid.

Russian forces and rebels have fought two wars since 1994 in the Muslim south Russian republic of Chechnya. The focus of fighting has shifted this year from Chechnya to the neighbouring province of Ingushetia.

Reuters JK RN1904

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