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Published on November 5th, 2012 | by Alexandra Sandacz

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Lawyers Denied Access to Case File after Discovery of Falsified Documents in Posthumous Prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky

By Alexandra Sandacz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MOSCOW, Russia – The Russian Interior Ministry recently announced that the investigation into death of Sergei Magnitsky is finished and the case file for the impending trial is prepared. The trial, regarding Magnitsky’s death while in Russian police custody, will be the first posthumous prosecution case in Russian history.

Sergei Magnitsky died almost exactly three years ago. (Photo Courtesy of The New York Times)

Sergei Magnitsky’s death, which happened almost exactly three years ago, sparked widespread criticism over Russian human rights. Last summer, police officials reopened Magnitsky’s case. Mr. Magnitsky was jailed in 2008 after being accused of helping Hermitage Capital evade $17.4 million in taxes. However, the allegations arose after Magnitsky testified against Interior Ministry officials for their role in an embezzlement plan.

During the Russian Interior Ministry’s investigation, falsified evidence was discovered. On November 11, 2009, Sergei Magnitsky was the first to uncover the falsified files. He wrote a complaint describing the violations and described his intent to expose the responsible individuals. However, on November 16, 2009, he was found dead on the floor of an isolation cell.

In the posthumous prosecution case, Hermitage lawyers uncovered the false documents in the case file. In reaction, counsel for Hermitage Capital filed 40 complaints reciting the violations such as concealment of evidence and conflict of interest. Nevertheless, the Ostankinsky District Court and the Federal Interior Ministry excluded all the complaints made. Furthermore, Interior Ministry investigator Shupolovsky denied Hermitage’s lawyer further access to materials in the case file.

On November 1, 2012, Hermitage lawyers filed complaints of obstruction of justice in responded to the denial of access into the case file. However, the response is not yet known.

A Hermitage lawyer stated in their complaint, “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.”

The complaint continued, “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, willfully pur­su­ing unlaw­ful pur­poses, has denied the coun­sel the access to the case file.”

Magnitsky’s family refused to take part in the posthumous proceeding. They believe it is amoral and unconstitutional. In attempt to prevent the proceedings, Magnitsky’s family filed three appeals with the Russian courts and several appeals with the Russian Prosecutor’s Office and the Interior Ministry. Each appeal was denied.

For further information, please see:

EU Reporter — The Posthumous Prosecution Of Sergei Magnitsky – 3 November 2012

Law and Order In Russia — Posthumous Prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky is Moving Forward In Spite of Massive Falsifications; Lawyers are Forbidden to See the Case File – 2 November 2012

The Huffington Post — Sergei Magnitsky Dead: Russia Whistleblower’s Death Prompts Mother To Call For Investigation – 2 October 2012

The New York Times — Russia Plans to Retry Dead Lawyer in Tax Case – 7 February 2012


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