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Rights experts to probe Magnitsky case

GUERNSEY, England, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- U.N. human-rights experts will probe the prison death of a Russian lawyer who accused police in a $230 million fraud scheme, the lawyer's former client said.

U.N. special rapporteurs, independent human-rights experts with specific mandates from the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, will investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest, custody and death of 37-year-old lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, Hermitage Capital Management Ltd. founder William F. Browder said in a statement Thursday.

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Magnitsky was outside counsel to Hermitage, once the largest foreign-investment fund in Russia.

He was arrested after uncovering the fraud scheme, and his Nov. 16, 2009, death after 358 days in prison came a week before a one-year limit on being held without trial was to have expired. The death generated international attention and sparked an investigation into abuse allegations.

Magnitsky had claimed he was also denied medical treatment as part of an effort to force him to drop fraud allegations against Russian officials.

Browder has been pushing for a full-scale investigation into the death, accusing police of retaliating against Magnitsky to conceal their guilt.

The U.N.-appointed investigation is "very significant," Browder told The Washington Post, adding Russia would have a hard time deflecting international attention from the case with the United Nations asking questions.

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