Court in Moscow acquits penitentiary official over Sergei Magnitsky's death
By Maria Antonova ,AFPMOSCOW -- A Moscow court on Friday acquitted a former top prison official accused of negligence over the death in detention of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, a tragedy that sparked a diplomatic scandal with the United States.
December 29, 2012, 12:05 am TWN
Magnitsky died in horrible pain at only 37 as he was under arrest over a fraud probe. He was jailed after testifying against interior ministry officers and accusing them of embezzling US$235 million paid as taxes by his client.
Judge Tatiana Neverova of the Tverskoy district court delivered an innocent verdict for Dmitry Kratov, the former deputy head of the Butyrka jail. He had done everything in his power to help Magnitsky, she said.
The decision had been widely expected after prosecutors earlier this week unexpectedly said Kratov should be acquitted as there was no “cause-effect” relationship between his actions and the death.
Kratov was the only official remaining as a defendant over the death of Magnitsky, which his supporters say was instigated by top officials after the lawyer discovered the tax scam.
With his lawyer absent from the hearing, Kratov, a pale balding man, stood alone to hear the hourlong reading of the verdict. He had not been held under arrest and is still working at the jail, but as a regular doctor.
The judge read through a litany of testimonies and conclusions of medical experts, ruling that Magnitsky's death was caused by sudden heart failure, rather than the diseases for which he had been treated under Kratov's supervision, namely pancreatitis and gallbladder inflammation.
“I'd like to thank the court for this fair decision,” Kratov told Interfax after the verdict, adding that he planned to continue working in the prison system.