This month marks the third anniversary of the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison.
This month marks the third anniversary of the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison after making corruption allegations. A lawyer for the Hermitage Fund, Mr. Magnitsky exposed a case of fraud involving some $230 million and implicating members of the Russian police, judiciary, and tax officials, among others. Mr. Magnitsky was arrested in November 2008, held for nearly a year without due process, denied medical care for a serious condition, tortured, and eventually died in custody.
According to the Moscow Helsinki Group, Mr. Magnitsky’s death was "not accidental, neither did it just happen as the result of an oversight or of the negligence of particular individuals working in the penitentiary system. Sergei Magnitsky died as a result of systematic torture to which he was purposely subjected on the order of police ministry officials."
Despite widely-publicized, credible evidence of criminal conduct resulting in Mr. Magnitsky's death, Russian authorities have failed to bring to justice those responsible. Indeed, since Mr. Magnitsky's death, those officials responsible have been exonerated, promoted and awarded state honors, and then initiated a posthumous case against the lawyer, the first ever in Russian legal history.
Amnesty International has described the posthumous prosecution of a dead lawyer as a violation of international and national laws. In a statement, the rights group called, "on the Russian authorities to take immediate steps to rectify these injustices and stop the posthumous criminal prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky, and bring all those responsible for his death to justice."
Mr. Magnitsky's case has become a symbol of corruption in Russia and the abuse of citizens who challenge the authorities. It's up to Russian authorities to restore integrity to their judicial system. That starts with full accountability for those responsible for Sergei Magnitsky's unjust imprisonment and wrongful death. The U.S. will continue to fully support the efforts of those in Russia who seek to bring these individuals to justice.