Monday, 12 July 2004
The European Court of Human Rights ordered the Russian Federation and Moldova on Thursday to release two political dissidents from prison and pay them and two others a total of more than 750,000 euros ($925,000) in damages.
The ruling came after a legal process that began in 1999.
Russian-backed authorities in the separatist enclave of Transdnestr arrested the four Moldovans in 1992 and sentenced them a year later for "terrorist attacks" on the enclave´s citizens during a war between Transdnestr and Moldova in 1991.
The European court ordered the Russian Federation and Moldova to "take all measures to put an end to the arbitrary detention" of Tudor Petrov-Popa and Andrei Ivantoc, who remain in a Transdnestr prison. The other two dissidents -- Ilie Ilascu and Alexandru Lesco -- have been released, Ilascu in 2001 and Lesco last month.
Ilascu is now a lawmaker in the Romanian Parliament.
The court, based in Strasbourg, France, also ordered the countries to pay the four compensation for the deprivation of their freedom, torture and inhumane treatment while in custody, a statement on the court´s web site said.
There was no immediate reaction from Moldova, although Justice Minister Vasile Dolghieru was fired Thursday in an apparently related move. No official reason was given for his dismissal. the Russian Federation called the ruling politically motivated.
"Moscow expresses its surprise over the controversy and the obviously political bias of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Alexandru Tanase, a lawyer for Ilascu, said Thursday´s ruling was final and irrevocable.
Under the court´s decision, the Russian Federation is to pay Ilascu 187,000 euros and 127,000 euros to each of the others.
Moldova is to pay Lesco, Petrov-Popa and Ivantoc 63,000 euros each in moral and material damages.