Posts Tagged ‘zarikhova’

March 2013

Chaos in Moscow court for trial of dead whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky as legal team fail to show

The Independent

There was mayhem in a tiny courtroom in Moscow today after one of the most controversial trials in recent Russian history – that of the deceased whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky – failed to start.

The case was prevented from proceeding after the lawyers for the late defendant did not show up. Mr Magnitsky, who died in prison in 2009 after being beaten and refused medical treatment, will be judged in the first posthumous trial in modern Russia.

He is accused of tax evasion, along with his former employer, William Browder, a US-born British investor.

Mr Browder has been banned from entering Russia and is being tried in absentia. He is the head of the investment fund Hermitage Capital and was accused of tax evasion after falling foul of the Russian government. Mr Magnitsky was investigating these charges in 2008, and discovered that the disputed tax payments had been stolen by police and tax officials. When he reported these findings, he himself was thrown into jail.

Mr Magnitsky’s family and lawyers have refused to participate in the trial, so the court has appointed lawyers to represent the deceased defendant. These lawyers have been told they could risk being debarred if they did not take on the case, but nevertheless were not present at court yesterday. It is unclear if their no-show was a political statement, as they were not available for comment, though the lawyers had told the court they needed more time to read the case documents.

Earlier, Mr Magnitsky’s widow had called on all of the participants to boycott the trial. “I think that if any of its participants have a conscience – and this is key not only in human morality, but also in Russian criminal law – they have a duty to refuse to participate in this blasphemy,” said Natalia Zharikova.

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