Russia reveals failures at deadly prison

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Russian prosecutors issued a scathing report Wednesday criticising the sanitary conditions of a prison where a lawyer for a Western investment firm died in pre-trial detention one year ago.

The general prosecutor's office said the Matrosskaya Tishina prison where Sergei Magnitsky died on November 16, 2009 had committed "numerous severe legal violations" for which 11 workers had received unnamed disciplinary measures.

The 37-year-old Magnitsky worked in Moscow for Hermitage Capital -- once Russia's biggest private Western investment fund.

He was arrested and imprisoned in Butyrka Prison in November 2008 shortly after publicising an alleged Russian government embezzlement programme under which taxes paid by the fund were returned to the accounts of top officials.

Hermitage Capital said Magnitsky was detained either in retribution or to help hush up the details of the case.

He began to complain about his health and was moved to Matrosskaya Tishina, to undergo a medical evaluation just 24 hours before his death.

An independent report prepared by a Russian oversight commission that monitors human rights observance in Moscow jails had earlier concluded that Matrosskaya Tishina doctors did nothing to save the lawyer's life.

"No medical help was provided to Sergei Magnitsky in Matrosskaya Tishina Prison when it was urgently required and for which purpose he had been transferred from Butyrka Prison," the independent report said.

"An ill person in severe condition was effectively left without medical attention (for 1 hour 18 minutes) to die in an isolation ward."

He is believed to have died of acute pancreatitis and gallstones as well as other accompanying ailments.

The latest prosecutor's office statement said the prison's medical unit did not meet "sanitation and hygiene requirements" while doctors also did little to help fight the spread of infectious diseases.

It did not recommend any punitive actions and said only that the city's justice officials should get the right fixes in place.

© 2011 AFP

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