(Vatican Radio) One of Europe's top courts says Russia has failed to protect the hostages of the Beslan school siege in which
about 330 people, most of them children, died in 2004, prompting an angry reaction from Moscow.
Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:
Victims of one of Russia's most bloodiest hostage crisis learned Thursday that their painful-decade wait for justice had not been vain. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia failed to protect the hostages of the thee-day Beslan school siege in September 2004.
More than 330 people were killed in what became known as the Beslan massacre, including 186 children. It happened after Chechen rebels took more than 1000 hostages to demand that Russian troops pull out of the republic Chechnya.
The Strasbourg based court said Russian security forces had violated the victims right to life when they moved in to free the hostages in School Number One in the town of Beslan in Russia's troubled republic of North Ossetia.
It judged that the use of powerful weapons such as tank cannon, grenade launchers and flame-throwers contributed to the high number of casualties.
The Kremlin was quick to condemn the verdict describing the court’s criticism as ‘‘unacceptable’‘. Russia was ordered to pay nearly 3 million euros in damages to victims, plus the legal costs.
Yet no money in the world will be able to dry the tears of Emma Tagayeva, one of the many mothers who lost children in the bloodshed. "As a mother it's terrible to bury your children," she said.
"It shouldn't be this way. Having felt this pain, I can't let anyone else suffer the same way.We have to do everything we can so that nothing like this is ever repeated."
She and others may be forgiven for wondering whether the siege could have been prevented and whether so many people had to die in the rescue operation.
Critics say officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, mishandled the hostage crisis and ignored intelligence indicating that a hostage-taking scenario was being planned.