Officials from the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Interior Ministry may be implicated in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in police custody, a member of the Kremlin’s human rights council said on Thursday..
Magnitsky died after almost a year in a notorious Moscow pre-trial detention center in November 2009. He had been arrested on tax evasion charges just days after claiming that police investigators had stolen $230 million from the state.
On Wednesday a council report said his death was likely to have been the result of a beating and that the charges against him were fraudulent. Human rights activists and his former colleagues allege the officers he had accused were involved in his death, which was originally said to have been the result of “heart failure.”
“Speaking about names, I want to specify structures that may be involved. These are the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ministry of Taxes and Collections, and the Finance Ministry,” council member Kirill Kabanov said.
The council’s reports also implicates a group of law enforcement and judiciary officials in Magnitsky’s death. Investigators Oleg Silchenko, Artyom Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov, Moscow district Judge Sergei Podoprigorov and prison doctor Alexandra Gaus were listed in the report.
Despite naming the officials, the report does not explicitly blame any of them of wrongdoing, citing a parallel ongoing inquiry by the Investigative Committee.
President Dmitry Medvedev, for whom the Magnitsky case has been seen as a test of his pledge to battle corruption, has not commented on the report.
On Tuesday, he said that the 37-year-old lawyer’s death was “a crime.”
“The Magnitsky incident is, of course, very sad,” Medvedev said after a meeting with the presidential civil and human rights council in the North Caucasus city of Nalchik. “Sad because he died and sad because it seems that, judging by everything, there really was some crime committed that- at the very least – led to this.”