Russia Putting Dead Man on Trial

Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, accused of tax evasion, died in police custody
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2012 4:05 PM CST
Russia Putting Dead Man on Trial
This is a 2009 file photo showing a portrait of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, held by his mother Nataliya Magnitskaya.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

(Newser) – For the first time in its history, Russia plans to prosecute a dead man. Police intend to bring to trial the tax-evasion case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in custody in 2009, reports the New York Times. Russian authorities claim they reopened the case so Magnitsky's supporters could exonerate him. The real reason, assert the supporters, is so the government can intimidate them and perhaps clear the name of the officials Magnitsky had condemned for corruption.

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Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 and charged with helping his company evade $17.4 million in taxes. This was after he testified against Interior Ministry officials, contending they stole $230 million from the Russian Treasury through bogus tax returns. Magnitsky's death, at age 37, set off international criticism over Russia's human rights record, as the police were accused of refusing him adequate medical care. (Read more Sergei Magnitsky stories.)

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