Late lawyer's mother challenges Russia's top prosecutor

26th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The mother of Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer whose 2009 death in pre-trial detention sparked global outrage, Monday filed a criminal complaint against Russia's top prosecutor and a slew of top officials she said had contributed to her son's death.

In an extensive letter to Russia's top investigators, Natalia Magnitskaya listed evidence that the death of her son was not caused by negligence but was a premeditated murder brought on by months of torture to keep him silent.

A 37-year old corporate lawyer, Magnitsky died of untreated heart condition and pancreatitis in an isolation cell in November 2009 after his arrest in 2008.

Before his arrest, he claimed to have uncovered a scheme used by police officials to reclaim about $235 million in taxes paid by his employer Hermitage Capital. He was charged with fraud and spent nearly a year in Moscow prisons.

"In over 1.5 years since the death of my son... I became aware of information evident of a crime against my son, specifically that his death was brought on by deliberate violent actions," the letter states.

Russian investigators have charged two prison doctors with negligence and carelessness over Magnitsky's death.

Magnitskaya however claimed in her letter that the doctors were only part of a scheme that included far more senior officials.

Officials from the interior ministry, FSB security service, and the prosecutor's office, that "created torturous conditions in Sergei Magnitsky's detention", she said.

Numerous complaints lodged by the lawyer were ignored by all levels of the justice system -- including Russia's top prosecutor Yury Chaika -- "due to either criminal negligence or personal interest", she said.

"I ask to open a criminal case into torture and premeditated murder of Sergei Magnitsky," she wrote, listing 11 interior ministry officers, five prosecutors, and a slew of other officials.

The United States and other Western countries expressed alarm over the tragedy and Washington has now imposed a visa blacklist against Russian officials whom it believes were involved.

© 2011 AFP

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