The Posthumous Prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky:
Saturday 03 November 2012
By EU Reporter Moscow correspondent
2 November 2012 – On the eve of the third anniversary of the death of Sergei Magnitsky in Russian police custody, the Russian Interior Ministry has announced that it has completed its investigation and prepared the case file for an imminent trial. The proceedings in relation to Magnitsky, who has been dead for three years, will be the first case of a posthumous prosecution in Russian legal history.
Lawyers for Hermitage have uncovered evidence of massive falsifications of documents in the case file. They have filed 40 complaints in the last six months detailing the falsification and other legal violations, including concealment of evidence and conflict of interest, but all complaints have been rejected by the Ostankinsky District Court and the Federal Interior Ministry on unreasoned grounds. Following these complaints, the Interior Ministry investigator Shupolovsky, who has been put in charge of the case, has now denied Hermitage's lawyer any access to further materials in the case file.
Yesterday, Hermitage lawyers filed five complaints detailing the obstruction of justice and denial of lawyers’ access to the case file with General Prosecutor Chaika, Head of Interior Ministry’s Investigative Department Alekseev and Head of Interior Ministry’s Department for the Central Federal District Agafieva. Their response is not known yet.
“The case is an unlawful criminal proceeding which is carried out in spite of the evidence of innocence and despite the absence of a crime allegedly committed more than ten years ago…Under the guise of a criminal proceeding, the authorities are carrying out a politically motivated punishment of Hermitage, that lead to the death of Sergei Magnitsky,” said Hermitage lawyers in their complaint.
“Counsel was given materials of the case file from which they have established evidence of the falsification and abuse of office,... the significant amount of materials have been concealed from the counsel… Following this, Interior Ministry Investigator Shupolovsky acting in abuse of office and contrary to the interests of the public service, wilfully pursuing unlawful purposes, has denied the counsel the access to the case file,” said the complaint.
The falsification of the case files was first uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky himself five days before his death, on 11 November 2009 when he wrote a complaint detailing the violations and stating his intent to bring those responsible to justice. On 16 November 2009, he was found dead on the floor of an isolation cell with signs of violence on his body.
Magnitsky's family has refused to participate in the posthumous proceeding calling it amoral and unconstitutional. They filed three appeals with the Russian courts and several appeals with the Russian Prosecutor’s Office and the Interior Ministry. All have been denied.
Sergei Magnitsky (8 April 1972 – 16 November 2009), an outside lawyer for the Hermitage Fund, was killed in Russian police custody at the age of 37 after he exposed the $230 million theft implicating government officials. He was honored posthumously with 2010 Integrity Award by Transparency International, for his fight against official corruption.