Human Rights Council to establish group to look into Magnitsky case
MOSCOW, November 28 - RAPSI. The Presidential Council for Human Rights will monitor the investigation into lawyer Sergei Magnitsky's death, council head Mikhail Fedotov said at a news conference on Monday.
Magnitsky, a lawyer for the Hermitage Capital fund, died of cardiovascular insufficiency in a Moscow pretrial detention center on November 16, 2009. His death sparked a public outcry and resulted in amendments to the criminal code and a reshuffling of officials in the penal system. On November 24, the council and the security services discussed the progress in the Magnitsky case.
"It was decided to establish special workgroups. One of these groups will cooperate with the Investigative Committee to dispel doubts concerning Magnitsky's death. It is crucial for us to settle the case," Fedotov said at the news conference.
He also said no one should become a scapegoat in the case. The council will do its utmost to call to account those responsible for Magnitsky's death, he added.
Council member Lyudmila Alexeyeva earlier told journalists that the council suggested establishing contact groups to render quick assistance to seriously ill prisoners.
Public Monitoring Committee head Valery Borshchev has pressed for investigating the staff and doctors at the center where Magnitsky died. He said investigators have so far opened a case against a doctor and another staff member at the center from where Magnitsky was moved.
Borshchev added that the Hermitage Capital fund in its 100-page report titled, "The Torture and Murder of Sergei Magnitsky and the Cover-up by the Russian Government," submitted a number of documents that previously had not been made available to the council.
The fund published its report on Monday. It earlier sent copies to officials in the United States, Canada and the EU.
According to investigators, Magnitsky and his accomplices stole hundreds of millions of rubles from the state by manipulating tax returns between September and October 2007.
In turn, Hermitage Capital has maintained that the investment fund had paid the 5.4 billion rubles ($172 million) in taxes, but the money was stolen by corporate raiders with the help of law enforcement officials. Magnitsky's prosecution has been attributed to this theft.
Later, two of the six individuals who were under investigation were sentenced to imprisonment. The others died, including Magnistky.