Posts Tagged ‘anorak’

February 2013

Sergei Magnitsky: How a dead man was put on trial


THE court calls Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. He’s a bit slow to take the stand. He’s a bit quiet. This is because Sergei Magnitsky is dead. He died in a Russian prison from pancreatitis. He’s buried at Moscow’s Preobrazhensky cemetery.

Mr Magnitsky was first arrested in 2008. The lawyer with US firm Firestone Duncan had been working for London-based Hermitage Capital Management. He claimed to have uncovered a massive fraud worth £125m. He told all to officials. He was then arrested for alleged tax evasion and sent to prison, where he was beaten and denied medical help. He was had been held for a year without charge. Well, just under a year. In Russia, you can be held for anything up a year without charge. That time would have lapsed on November 24. He died on Monday, November 16. Such was his misfortune.

He was kept in squalor. In his affidavit, Magnitsky noted:

“…sewage started to rise from the drain under the sink [the] floor was covered with sewage several centimetres thick … for the 10 months I have been under arrest, the investigator has not let me meet with my wife, mother or any other relative”. “Isolation from the outside world exceeds all reasonable limits …

In July 2009, Magnitsky was diagnosed with “gall bladder stones, pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis“. He blamed that on his confinement:

“Prior to confinement, I didn’t have these illnesses or at least there were no symptoms.”

Irina Dudukina, spokesman for the prosecutors’ investigative committee, said in November 2009:

“He was a key witness and his evidence was very important. The tragic news about his death came as a complete surprise. He had complained about the conditions of his detention but never his health.”

Spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee Irina Dudukina speaks at a news conference on the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in Moscow, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009.

Bill Browder of Hermitage Capital said Sergei Magnitsky, had in effect been “held hostage and they killed their hostage”. He had hired Magnitsky to search for fraud against his company. The Russian elite were not willing to play fair:

In 2005, Mr Browder was banned from Russia as a threat to national security after allegations that his firms had evaded tax, but Mr Browder says his company was targeted by criminals trying to seize millions of pounds worth of his assets. Mr Browder says he was punished for being a threat to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. Since then, a number of Mr Browder’s associates in Russia – as well as lawyers acting for his company – have been detained, beaten or robbed.

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