Russia puts dead lawyer Magnitsky on trial

The Daily Star

Russia on Thursday opened a fraud trial against Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer whose prison death in 2009 led to the biggest US-Russia row in years, despite protests by the defence it was illegal to try a dead man.

The Magnitsky family defence lawyers refused to participate in an “unconstitutional” process against a dead man and the judge was forced to adjourn the hearing until the new year.

“The preliminary hearing into Magnitsky’s case has been moved to January 28 due to the absence of the lawyers from the defence,” the press service of the Tverskoy district court in Moscow told AFP.

Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 and spent nearly a year in squalid prison conditions, dying at the age of 37 of untreated illnesses. A report by the Kremlin human rights council last year said he was tortured and handcuffed in his final hours.

Before his arrest, the lawyer said he uncovered a tax scam worth 5.4 billion rubles ($235 million) against the company he worked for, investment fund Hermitage Capital, which involved interior ministry officials.

But he was then charged with the very crimes he claimed to have uncovered and was placed in pre-trial detention. The case was closed after his death but then reopened in August 2011.

Investigators had said in February they planned to put the dead man on trial. Russian prosecutors last month sent the case against Magnitsky to court.

Magnitsky and his former employer — the head of Hermitage Capital William Browder — are accused of tax evasion worth 522 million rubles.

Browder — who is currently based in London — is being tried in absentia.

Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer of Magnitsky’s family, told AFP that he has “no plans to participate in an unconstitutional affair”.

Despite a request by Magnitsky’s relatives not to launch the fraud probe that has been closed after his death, it was reopened at the request of the prosecutors, said Gorokhov, adding that this violates a decision by Russia’s Constitutional Court.

Gorokhov argued that a legal case could only involve a dead man if it was aimed at quashing a previous conviction or rehabilitation.

Browder also denounced the trial, calling it “an act of reprisal against those who exposed the criminal group of corrupt officials”, Hermitage Capital quoted him as saying in a statement.

Browder had spearheaded the campaign to punish those allegedly responsible for Magnitsky’s death, with the United States passing this month the Magnitsky Act, which blacklists such individuals.

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2 Responses to “Russia puts dead lawyer Magnitsky on trial”

  1. Dawn says:

    Mr. Browder…objecting isn’t worth your time and breath. You cannot win an argument with the mentally insane. The holding of trial against Magnitsky is the same as the Russian government holding a very public mental competency hearing with Russian leaders showing to the world they’re mentally unfit. No journalist could do an expose this good of the mental sickness that rules Russia! Furthermore, any journalist trying would be murdered. The Russian government with this trial is exposing it’s own leaders’ mental incompetency without a single journalist putting their lives at risk having to expose the mental illness. Russian leaders with this trial are publicly humiliating themselves before the entire world! The world’s population is capable of doing its own judging just from the news reporting very matter of factly on the trial’s schedule. I’m sure the real reason for the trial is b/c the Kremlin can’t try everyone else it wants on fabricated charges linked to Magnitsky, including you.

  2. Dawn says:

    Mr. Browder may be too close & emotionally invested in finding Magnitsky justice to consider more of the outcomes of this trial & the long-term damage it does to the Russian government’s credibility. This already is recorded modern history. Even if the totally mad should experience moments of temporary sanity & drop charges no one is going to forget how long prosecution resources were wasted to shield & protect a mobster named Dmitry Klyuev & his cohorts in crime. Every time the Russian government takes another misstep the momentum of how far the fabricated charges got will be cited each time to add further proof of a failing in credibility.
    The first illegals began moving in to encircle my home in a horse shoe shape 7 1/2 yrs ago after three staged car accidents in three months the year before failed to kill me. The local PD has a combination of illegals & their foot soldiers acting on their behalf. Our psyche system on Long Island is full of more illegals & their foot soldiers. I’ve been illegally (no court orders, failure to prove to a judge the incarcerations were lawful from the onset–writ of habeas corpus, etc) locked into psych wards & deprived all civil rights based on the illegals, cops & shrinks’ false allegations. I’ve had a working relationship with the FBI for just over 10 1/2 years & for a different reason the FBI been vetting me for more than 8 1/2 yrs. I wouldn’t be able to pass the FBI background checks if any of the allegations made by the illegals were true. As hard as the Kremlin’s illegals try to discredit me they’ve failed where it mattered most. Everything they do discredits them more. It does something also that I can’t disclose in this public setting. Though Mr. Browder’s dealings with the Russian government far exceed mine, my full 11 yrs of dealing with it have always been with its organized crime element. They have no honor even amidst thieves…they are true psychopaths. You cannot win an argument with the mentally ill. The best you can do is lock them up & throw away the key. The mentally ill that are dangerous need to be executed. The Magnitsky Act is a start to restrict travel, but the problem isn’t going to be eradicated until the world’s democracies lock-up Russian government criminals.

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