MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) – A Moscow court acquitted on Friday a former prison official implicated in the 2009 death of whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Dmitry Kratov, the former deputy chief of the Butyrka pre-trial detention facility in Moscow, was charged with negligence leading to the death of the 37-year-old Magnitskywho died in November 2009 while under arrest.
Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court sided with the prosecution, which earlier this week asked that the charges against Kratov be dropped because no crime had been committed.
A lawyer representing Magnitsky’s relatives, Nikolai Gorokhov, told RAPSI news agency that they “will definitely appeal the verdict.”
Magnitsky, a lawyer with the Hermitage Capital fund, was arrested on tax evasion charges after he exposed what he believed was a $230 million tax fraud carried out by Russian officials. He spent the next 12 months in pre-trial detention, during which he was denied treatment for pancreatitis and gall stones.
An independent inquiry ordered by the Kremlin’s human rights council revealed that Magnitsky had been severely beaten hours before his death, but prison officials maintained that the injuries were self-inflicted.
Larisa Litvinova, the head doctor at Butyrka, was also charged in connection with the case, but the charges were dropped in April because the statute of limitations had expired.
Magnitsky’s death raised a public outcry that ultimately led to the enactment in the US earlier this month of a law named for the late lawyer - the Magnitsky Act – which imposes sanctions against Russian officials implicated in human rights abuses.