Criminal case launched against doctor, prison boss over Magnitsky death

The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case against two former pre-trial detention center staff, over the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in custody, the committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Tuesday.

“A criminal case against Larisa Litvinova and Dmitry Kratov, former staff of a Moscow pre-trail detention center…has been launched,” Markin said.

Litvinova, who was Magnitsky’s doctor, is charged with causing the lawyer’s death by neglecting to render professional care. Her superior at the detention center, Kratov, is charged with negligence.

Magnitsky died after almost a year in Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina 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.

Magnitsky was working for the Hermitage Capital investment fund when he was arrested. He had claimed to have uncovered massive fraud on the part of law enforcement officials just before he was detained by some of the same officials. His death led to an international outcry.

Earlier this month, a Kremlin human rights council report said Magnitsky’s 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” at the age of 37.

President Dmitry Medvedev, for whom the Magnitsky case has been seen as a test of his pledge to battle corruption, said earlier that the lawyer’s death was “a crime.”

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