Russian prosecutors' probe clears authorities over Beslan school siege
Updated: 2005-12-27 16:31
Russian prosecutors investigating last year's bloody school hostage siege in
the southern town of Beslan have uncovered no mistakes in the authorities'
handling of the crisis, the official leading the probe said Tuesday.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Nikolai Shepel said in comments released by his
office that a reconstruction of the events of the September 2004 raid had
established that police and other security forces involved in the rescue
operation did not bear any blame for the ensuing tragedy.
Relatives of the victims, who have accused the authorities of incompetence
over the deaths of more than 330 people and mounting a cover-up, responded
A girl rests her head during a public memorial
for the victims of last years Beslan school siege in the town's cemetery,
September 3, 2005. [Reuters/file]
"We didn't expect anything else, the prosecutors are sticking to their
version of events and ignoring victims' testimony," Susanna Dudiyeva, head of
the Beslan Mothers' Committee, told The Associated Press.
The prosecutors' conclusions sharply differ from those of an earlier probe by
a regional legislative panel that blamed authorities for botching rescue efforts
and urged that those responsible be punished.
Militants attacked School No. 1 on September 1, 2004 _ the first day of
school _ taking more than 1,100 children, parents and staff hostage and herding
them into the gymnasium, which they rigged with explosives.
Most of the 331 people who died _ including 186 children _ were killed in the
explosions and gunfire that ended the three-day drama.
The rebels, who were demanding that Russian troops withdraw from the nearby
breakaway province of Chechnya, crossed heavily policed territory to reach the
school, and victims' relatives are convinced they received help from corrupt
The hostages' families have also been deeply critical of the flawed rescue
operation, saying hostages died needlessly because special forces used
flame-throwers, grenade launchers and tanks against the militants.
But Shepel said the security forces and rescue personnel had all acted
"According to the conclusions of the investigation, the expert commission did
not find ... any violations that could be responsible for the harmful
consequences that resulted from the terrorist act in Beslan," the prosecutor
A relative of the Aslan and Soslan Beroev
brothers, who died in last years school siege in Beslan, reacts at the
cemetery in Beslan August 30,
However, Shepel added that the experts had concluded that the system for
preventing terrorist acts in Russia did not provide sufficient protection for
the country's population.
Dudiyeva called for top officials involved in the rescue operation to be
"You need to punish those who did not carry out their duties properly. Our
children are no longer with us," she said.
There are three Russian investigations into the hostage-taking _ one already
completed by the regional parliament, and two ongoing by the Prosecutor
General's office and the national parliament.