Russia puts dead lawyer Magnitsky on trial over alleged fraudulent acts
AFPMOSCOW--Russia on Thursday opened a fraud trial against Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer whose prison death in 2009 led to the biggest U.S.-Russia row in years, despite protests by the defense it was illegal to try a dead man.
December 28, 2012, 12:21 am TWN
The Magnitsky family defense 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 Jan. 28 due to the absence of the lawyers from the defense,” 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 (US$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.