One of Russia’s top investigators, who was allegedly involved in the Magnitsky case, has been arrested on suspicion of extorting a bribe of $3 million.
Nelly Dmitrieva’s case is now being looked into by a special commission. According to the first version, the investigator demanded $3 million for closing an illegal trafficking case. The second version has it that Dmitrieva tried to extort $5 million from a witness to dealings in medical equipment tenders for Karelian hospitals. The investigator allegedly threatened the witness, saying that he would end up in prison unless he paid the bribe.
While in court, the investigator asked the court to hold the trial behind closed doors, saying she was going to provide evidence against some high-ranking officials. The judge refused the request, so no high-profile testimony followed.
The media reports that Dmitrieva has denied her guilt and is refusing to hire a lawyer to protect her interests. The state prosecutor suggested releasing the investigator, but the judge ruled that Dmitrieva’s legal knowledge might result in her hampering the investigation.
The investigator is also said to be on a list of 60 officials implicated in death of the Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergey Magnitsky.
“Dmitrieva was actively participating in the investigation,” said Ivan Cherkason, a partner at Hermitage Capital. “She took part in the searches conducted on the premises of our law company. She was actually in charge of it.”
The Internal Ministry’s press service, however, has denied that Dmitrieva had anything to do with the case.
Magnitsky, a 37-year-old lawyer for Hermitage Capital Management Fund, was arrested by Russian authorities on charges of alleged tax evasion, and died of a heart attack while in a Moscow pre-trial detention facility on November 16, 2009. The fund maintained that the real reason for his detention was that he had uncovered a multi-million-dollar corruption scheme involving high-ranking state officials.
Russia’s Presidential Council for Human Rights held an independent investigation into the case, saying that the head of the pre-trial detention center, together with the investigators who had conducted the probe into allegations of tax fraud, deliberately prevented Magnitsky from receiving medical treatment, namely by refusing to transfer the inmate to a different prison with better conditions and a higher quality of medical facilities.