Kremlin council accuses top officials over Magnitsky death

6th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The human rights council of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday blamed two high ranking officials over the shocking prison death of a lawyer, alleging he was also possibly beaten.

Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, 37, who had been held in pre-trial detention in a complex fraud case for 11 months, died in the Matrosskaya Tishina jail in Moscow in 2009 in a tragedy that sparked international outrage.

The council, which advises Medvedev on human rights issues, for the first time singled out top interior ministry investigator Oleg Silchenko and the head of the prison Ivan Prokopenko as being at fault for neglect over his death.

Its long-awaited report into the death was published the day after Medvedev said "criminal actions" had led the the death of Magnitsky, which his supporters have long alleged was a result of foul play.

"Before his death, Magnitsky was completely deprived of medical help," said the report. "There is also reason to suppose that his death was provoked by beating," it added.

Magnitsky, a lawyer for Western investment fund Hermitage Capital, was being investigated in a fraud case in which he had himself accused top interior ministry officials of receiving more than $200 million in returns on taxes.

The rights council said it was a "clear, illegal conflict of interest" that the very interior ministry investigators whom he had accused were also key players in building the case against him.

© 2011 AFP

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