|eorgia takes Russia to European court over 2008 war|
|September 22, 2011|
Strasbourg - Three years after they fought a war, Georgia on Thursday lodged a case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights, accusing Russian soldiers of numerous human rights abuses in the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgia accuses Russian troops or rebels acting on their orders of having tortured and killed civilians and driven people from their homes over the course of the week-long war.
Georgia's deputy justice minister Tina Burjaliani on Thursday accused Russia of standing by as the attacks were carried out and of covering up for the attacks, which Georgia says violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
Russia's deputy justice minister Georgy Matyushkin rejected the allegations, saying Russia was forced to step in to protect civilians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia against Georgian forces.
The court in the eastern French city of Strasbourg is not expected to issue a ruling before next year.
Tensions between Georgia and Russia erupted into a full-blown conflict in August 2008 after Georgia tried to forcibly retake South Ossetia following a series of clashes with Russian-backed rebels.
Russia fought back and ejected Georgian troops from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Reports put the death toll in the fighting at between 400 and 600 people.
The conflict ended after the two sides signed a peace deal brokered by France. But tensions remained after Russia promptly recognized the two breakaway regions as independent states.
Inter-state cases are rare at the European Court of Human Rights, although it has ruled in the past on conflicts in Northern Ireland and Cyprus.
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