Acquital Nears in Magnitsky Case
Published: December 26, 2012 (Issue # 1741)
MOSCOW — A prosecutor on Monday requested that the only remaining defendant in whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death be acquitted of criminal negligence.
The United States recently passed a law to impose international sanctions on Russians it believes were involved in the 2009 death, but Russia has not made any conviction in the case.
State Attorney Dmitry Bokov asked a Moscow court to acquit Dmitry Kratov, former deputy head of the city’s Butyrka pretrial detention center, due to a lack of evidence, the Rapsi legal news agency reported.
Magnitsky, who died of heart failure in a different jail, Matrosskaya Tishina, a few months after being transferred from Butyrka in 2009, had been incarcerated on tax evasion charges shortly after accusing tax and police officials of embezzling $230 million.
Kratov currently faces up to five years in prison. The verdict will be delivered Friday, the prosecution said.
An independent inquiry by the Kremlin’s Human Rights Council determined that Magnitsky died after being beaten by guards. In an e-mail in June, the firm that had employed Magnitsky, Hermitage Capital, called the investigation a “farce” because Kratov was “not present at Matrosskaya Tishina.”
Hermitage Capital founder Bill Browder has called Kratov a “scapegoat” and blamed President Vladimir Putin for influencing the prosecution. “What is apparent is that the prosecutor couldn’t prosecute anyone with that type of political direction,” Browder said.
Putin said Thursday that Magnitsky “wasn’t tortured but died of natural causes,” Browder said by e-mail.
Browder expressed a belief that “the Russian government will surely get a conviction” in the posthumonous trial of Magnitsky on tax evasion charges.