The applicants, Anelia Nachova and her mother Aksiniya Hristova, Todorka Rangelova and Rangel Rangelov, are Bulgarian nationals of Roma origin. The case concerns the killing one of the applicants’ relatives, father of Ms Nachova and son of Ms Rangelova and Mr Rangelov by a military policeman who was trying to arrest them. A neighbor claimed that, because his grandson – a young boy – had been in the area where the shooting occurred, he had asked Major G. for permission to approach and remove him from danger. Major G. had pointed his gun at him, saying: “You damn Gypsies!”.
The applicants alleged that prejudice and hostile attitudes towards people of Roma origin had played a decisive role in the events leading up to the shootings and the failure to carry out a meaningful investigation.
The Court considered that any evidence of racist verbal abuse having being uttered by law-enforcement agents in an operation involving the use of force against persons from an ethnic or other minority was highly relevant to the question whether hatred-induced violence had taken place. Where such evidence came to light in the investigation, it had to be verified and – if confirmed – a thorough examination of all the facts had to be undertaken in order to uncover any possible racist motives.
However, responsible institutions had done nothing to verify the neighbour’s statement, or the reasons it had been considered necessary to use such a degree of force. They had disregarded relevant facts and terminated the investigation, thereby shielding Major G. from prosecution.
The Court thus found that the authorities had failed in their duty under Article 14 of the Convention taken together with Article 2 to take all possible steps to investigate whether or not discrimination may have played a role in the events.