Press Release, Hermitage Capital Fund
Originally Sent 28 November 2011
Today, Hermitage Capital released a 75-page report with new documentary evidence showing how Sergei Magnitsky was murdered in Russian police custody and how the Russian government has consistently lied in public about Sergei Magnitsky’s false arrest, torture and death to cover up the criminal liability of the Russian officials involved.
The report entitled “The Torture and Murder of Sergei Magnitsky and the Cover Up by the Russian Government” is the result of 1000 man hours of work conducted by a team of pro-bono lawyers, forensic investigators and Sergei Magnitsky’s colleagues, who have reviewed Russian court filings, criminal case materials and public statements by government officials in the Magnitsky case. The report shows in more than 100 documents, photographs and media links how Russian government officials systematically tortured Sergei Magnitsky in custody, and how every single department of the Russian law enforcement system has been involved in the cover-up of the crimes.
“This report shows irrefutable documentary evidence of the roles of specific high level officials in the false arrest, torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky and the cover-up that followed. This is a unique record of the injustice that was done to Sergei Magnitsky, and it also lays bare the inner workings of the corruption inside the Russian criminal justice system,” said a Hermitage Capital spokesman.
The report starts out by showing, for the first time, graphic and disturbing images of the deep lacerations and bruises on Sergei Magnitsky’s body after he was beaten by eight riot guards with rubber batons one hour before he was found dead on the floor of an isolation cell at Matrosskaya pre-trial detention center. It shows an internal report from Matrosskaya Tishina, which has never been seen before, where its head, Fikhret Tagiev authorized the use of rubber batons in those fatal beatings and then ordered the closure of any further probe eight days after Sergei Magnitsky died.
The report then presents another key document, which has never been seen before, showing how an official from the Preobrazhensky office of the Russian State Investigative Committee reviewed the evidence of Sergei Magnitky’s death three days after he died and wrote a recommendation to his superiors that a murder investigation should be opened. This recommendation was never acted upon and concealed until it came to light in this review of case files recently.
The Magnitsky report reveals evidence provided by civilian doctors showing how detention center officials falsified the time, place and other circumstances of Magnitsky’s death in their care. Detention center officials stated that Magnitsky was delivered to a prison hospital at Matrosskaya Tishina in Moscow, where he was examined by medical personnel, and fell suddenly ill and died at 9:50 pm on a hospital bed after resuscitation attempts failed. However, testimony from the civilian doctor present at the time of Magnitsky’s death indicate that he did not have an opportunity to examine Magnitsky because he found Magnitsky’s dead body on the floor of an isolation cell before 9 pm.
The Magnitsky report contains links to seven formal requests for medical attention (out of 20 in total) that Sergei Magnitsky filed to all branches of the Russian state, including the Russian Interior Ministry, General Prosecutor’s Office, Federal Penitentiary Service, and the Moscow Court.
These requests were filed after he fell ill, lost twenty kilos and was diagnosed with Pancreatitis, Gallstones and Cholecystitus.
The report then provides links to the six letters from each branch of the Russian law enforcement apparatus systematically refusing his increasingly desperate pleas for medical attention. These refusals come from:
– Judge Alexei Krivoruchko of the Moscow Tverskoi Court on 14 September 2009;
– Judge Elena Stashina of the Moscow Tverskoi court on 12 November 2009;
– Prosecutor Andrei Pechegin, of the Russian General Prosecutor’s office on 9 October 2009;
– Major Oleg Silchenko of the Russian Federal Interior Ministry on
2 September 2009;
– Lieutenant Colonel Dmitri Komnov Head of ButrykaPre-Trial DetentionCenteron 7 October 2009;
– General Vladimir Davydov, Head of MoscowPenitentiary Service on
7 October 2009.
The report then highlights the contradiction between the many requests and denials of medical attention and the public statements made by Russian officials about their non-existence. Among senior Russian government officials exposed in the report as having publicly lied about Magnitsky’s medical conditions in custody were:
– Irina Dudukina, the official spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee, who said on 17 November 2010 that “there has not been a single complaint from Magnitsky about his health in the criminal case file.” http://www.interfax.ru/society/txt.asp?id=110496
– Alexei Anichin, the Deputy Russian Interior Minister, who said on 23 December 2009 that “Out of 111 complaints from pre-trial detention reviewed by the Interior Ministry, not a single complaint contained anything to do with his health or conditions of his detention”
– Oleg Logunov, Chief of Legal Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office, who said on 7 June 2010 that “for the whole period of his detention, the investigation did not receive a single compliant about his health” http://www.polit.ru/news/2010/06/08/logunov/
– Olga Egorova, Head of the Moscow City Court, who said on 14 September 2010 that “Magnitsky did not request to be released due to his health. The judges probably did not know about his health”
– Konstantin Kosachev, Head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Parliament, who said on 18 May 2010 that “Magnitsky in many of his petitions … to the investigators complained about everything, but never about his illness and non-receipt of medical care”
– Yuri Kalinin, former head of the Russian Penitentiary Service and currently a member of the Russian Parliament who said on 4 April 2011 that “The death of Magnitsky was an accident that was hard to foresee. He received medical care for his diagnosed illness”
– Alexander Bastrykin, Head of the Russian State Investigative Committee who said on 7 September 2010 “There is no ground to think that his death was connected to actions of officials who prosecuted him. There is no objective information showing that he was prosecuted illegally or that physical and psychological pressure was applied to him”
“Most shockingly, this report proves that nearly every single high level Russian official in the law enforcement system publicly lied to cover up the fact that he was systematically denied medical care for a life threatening illness,” said a Hermitage Capital spokesman.
“The report dispels any myths that Magnitsky did not complain about his medical condition or that he complained to the wrong state authorities or that the authorities did not have the knowledge of his diagnoses of pancreatitis and gallstones. The report shows that all state bodies received his complaints and flatly refused them,” added the Hermitage Capital representative.
The report concludes that the Russian government has failed to investigate Magnitsky’s torture and murder and the corruption he had uncovered. It further shows that the Russian investigation is conducted and supervised by the very same officials who have been implicated in the crimes and therefore does not meet any standard of independence and impartiality.
All petitions from Magnitsky’s family filed with the Russian authorities seeking to open a torture and murder probe were rejected, most recently in September 2011. Requests from Magnitsky”s family for an independent medical expertise have also been repeatedly rejected by Russian authorities and courts, most recently in October 2011.
The Russian General Prosecutor’s Office, the same agency which was responsible for a number of the violations of Magnitsky’s rights in custody, was ordered by President Medvedev to oversee the probe into the Magnitsky case after his death. As a result of this probe, the Russian Interior Ministry officials who were involved in the $230 million corruption uncovered by Magnitsky and his subsequent arrest and persecution were absolved from any wrong-doing, promoted and decorated with state honors, with the most recent conclusions issued in November 2011.
The official Russian investigation into Magnitsky’s death has been extended ten times, as a result of which two medical officials were accused in October 2011 of failing to diagnose “diabetes and hepatitis”, two diseases which Magnitsky never had. The authorities refused Magnitsky’s family access to his personal and medical records by denying over 30 requests for information. In a final development, the Russian Prosecutor’s Office re-opened a criminal case against Sergei Magnitsky twenty months after he died, and assigned to the case the same Interior Ministry officials who arrested and tortured him to death. Requests from the family to cease this unprecedented misuse of the justice system have been denied by prosecutorial authorities and Russian courts.
The 75-page Magnitsky report has already been submitted to the US Congress, the Canadian Parliament, five EU Parliaments, and the Russian Human Rights Council. It is now being publicly released more broadly as part of an on-going campaign to obtain visa sanctions and asset freezes all over the world for all the officials involved in the Magnitsky’s false arrest, torture and death and the subsequent cover-up.
Sergei Magnitsky was a 37-year old lawyer who served as an outside counsel to the Hermitage Fund when he uncovered the largest-known tax refund fraud in Russian history perpetrated by Russian officials. He testified about it and was arrested on trumped-up charges by the same officials, tortured for 358 days and murdered on 16 November 2009 in Russian police custody. None of the officials Magnitsky reported for their role in the embezzlement of
$230 million of public funds and who were involved in his false arrest, torture and murder have been prosecuted for these crimes. After two years of investigation, two medical officials were charged with unintentional negligence in proceedings which deprived the Magnitsky family and their counsel from access to most of his personal records and case files.
Last April, the US Helsinki Commission has published a list of 60 Russian officials involved in the $230 million corruption uncovered by Magnitsky and his subsequent arrest, torture and death. Last November, Sergei Magnitsky was posthumously awarded the Integrity Award by Transparency International for his personal stance against the Russian corruption. This October, lawmakers from 29 countries in Europe signed a Magnitsky Declaration calling upon Russia to immediately prosecute killers of Sergei Magnitsky.