Magnitsky death inquiry prolonged once again – Hermitage Capital (Part 2)

26 April 2012

MOSCOW. April 26 (Interfax) – The criminal investigation into the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow jail in 2009 has been prolonged once again, the investment advisory firm said in a press release, received by Interfax on Thursday.

As European Union countries and the United States discuss sanctions and other tough measures in relation to Russian officials standing behind the Magnitsky case, the Russian authorities have prolonged the inquiry into his death for the 12th time, it said.

Russian Investigative Committee officials have so far been unavailable for comment.

Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in January that the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Magnitsky’s death had been prolonged until April 24.

Magnitsky, a lawyer for the investment foundation Hermitage Capital, died in the Matrosskaya Tishina detention facility on November 16, 2009 at the age of 37. He was charged with tax evasion (Russian Penal Code Article 199).

Magnitsky’s death drew a broad public response. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against doctor Larisa Litvinova based on Article 124 (failure to provide assistance to a patient), and another criminal case against jail deputy director Dmitry Kratov based on Article 293 (negligence).

The Investigative Committee dropped its charges against Litvinova at the beginning of April 2012, citing an expired statute of limitations.

An independent investigation into Magnitsky’s death was conducted under the auspices of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, which blamed both security service officers, doctors and officials for the lawyer’s death. The council also dismissed the criminal prosecution of Magnitsky as illegitimate. All of these documents were forwarded to the president.

Magnitsky’s mother complained to the Investigative Committee last week of the slow pace of the inquiry into her son’s death and a lack of attention to the circumstances surrounding his arrest and the conditions in the remand center.

According to two forensic evaluations, Magnitsky died of acute heart insufficiency. The experts confirmed that Magnitsky was suffering from the illnesses he was diagnosed with earlier, but said those illnesses were not at an acute stage.

Despite a number of dismissals in the Federal Penitentiary Institutions Service, human rights activists believe no real investigation into the causes of Magnitsky’s death was conducted.

The prosecution of Hermitage Capital officials in Russia began in June 2007. Moscow police then searched the offices of Hermitage Capital and the law firm Firestone Duncan.

Magnitsky said the criminal case against him was in retaliation for his testimony alleging the possibility of law enforcement officials’ involvement in the embezzlement of budget funds.

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