Magnitsky doctor faces manslaughter charges

A doctor from the Moscow pre-trial detention center Butyrskaya has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Sergey Matnitsky.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Friday that the laboratory doctor Larisa Litvinova, who was working at the Butyrskaya Prison at the time of Magnitsky’s death there in 2009, has been charged with manslaughter while her former boss Dmitry Kratov has been charged with criminal negligence.

Both suspects were fired from the Butyrskaya prison soon after Magnitsky’s death. In early June of this year investigators reported that their probe had shown that “a lack of medical treatment bore a direct causal relationship to Magnitsky’s death”. The case against the two doctors was opened in mid-July as the Investigative Committee later said that the proceedings would be folded into the ongoing case pertaining to Magnitsky’s death.

Magnitsky worked for the Hermitage Capital investment fund as a lawyer and died in a detention center while on trial for large-scale tax fraud.

Prior to that, the Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights and Non-Governmental Organizations held an independent probe into the case, saying that the head of the pre-trial detention center, together with the investigators who had conducted the investigation into allegations of tax fraud, deliberately prevented Magnitsky from receiving medical treatment, in particular by refusing to transfer the inmate to a different prison with better conditions and a higher quality of medical facilities.

One of the investigators then sued the HR Council members in a desire to refute the information in the council’s report. Investigator Pavel Karpov said that he was not working on the tax fraud case in which Magnitsky was involved as a suspect, saying that the rights activists solely based their reports on statements made by PR executives working for the head of the Hermitage Fund William Browder. Karpov also said that he was only interested in disclosing the truth and thus estimated his moral damages as a symbolic sum of one ruble.

The lawyer’s death caused outrage among the top managers of the Hermitage Capital Management fund where he worked, especially from Bill Browder, the fund’s head. Investors launched a major PR campaign in Russia and abroad, accusing certain Russian officials from the police, the justice ministry, and the tax ministry of corruption and embezzlement.

Due to 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 could not be incarcerated prior to standing trial.

Recently the United States has said that they would deny visas to the persons allegedly involved in Magnitsky’s death. Russia called the move unfriendly and said that it would reply with a similar entry ban for US officials connected with the trials of Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, two Russian citizens who had both been forcefully extradited to America to be tried for crimes they both deny committing.

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