Russia to prosecute dead lawyer

Feb. 8, 2012 at 10:58 AM

MOSCOW, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Russian investigators say they'll proceed with posthumous prosecution of a lawyer for alleged tax fraud more than two years after he died in a detention center.

Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for investment fund Hermitage Capital, died in November 2009 in a pretrial detention center where he had been held nearly a year after accusing police of complicity in a $230 million tax fraud, the Financial Times reported.

A presidential human rights commission found last summer the charges against Magnitsky had been fabricated and the federal prison service has assumed partial responsibility for his death. A Russian investigative committee found in July he had died because authorities denied him medical care.

Hermitage Capital and Magnitsky family members have said investigators indicated they may close the case if Hermitage and the family dropped their legal actions against Russian authorities.

Hermitage Executive Director William F. Browder, who lives in London, is to be a co-defendant tried in absentia, The New York Times reported.

The Magnitsky case has strained relations between Russia and the United States.

The U.S. State Department has banned officials connected to Magnitsky's prosecutions from entering the United States and parliaments in nine European countries are considering similar bans, The New York Times said.

The newspaper said the trial of Magnitsky would be the first posthumous prosecution in Russian legal history.

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