Investigative Committee officer bribed to reopen Magnitsky’s case

Shortly after the first people were accused in the death of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky, there is already one more person suspected of misconduct.

Human rights activists claim that the deputy head of the Investigative Committee, Colonel Natalia Vinogradova, may have received $40,000 for reopening the case against Magnitsky, the Vedomosti newspaper reported.

Vinogradova used to be the boss of an investigator dealing with Magnitsky’s case in 2008, but it was in fact she who made all decisions regarding the lawyer.

In 2010, both Vinogradova and her employee were awarded “Merited Interior Ministry Officer” and “Best Investigator” badges. Both the US and the EU put Vinogradova on their black lists.

The news comes shortly after two former prison doctors were accused of negligence resulting in Magnitsky’s death.

Magnitsky, a 37-year-old lawyer who had worked for a major foreign investment fund, died from heart failure in November 2009 while in a Moscow pre-trial detention center. He was being investigated in a major tax evasion case.

The lawyer’s death caused outrage among the top managers of the Hermitage Capital Management fund, where he had worked. The investors launched a major public campaign in Russia and abroad, accusing certain Russian officials with the police, the Justice Ministry and the Tax Ministry of corruption and embezzlement.

Due to the public interest, the Russian president had to intervene, ordering an additional probe into the case. As a result, several top officials from the Justice Ministry were sacked and Russian legislation was amended so that people suspected of economic crimes cannot be incarcerated prior to standing trial.

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