Sergei Magnitsky: Russian officials named as suspects

Sergei Magnitsky The two suspects in Magnitsky's death are not the same as those named in a report earlier this month

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Russian prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into two prison officials over the high-profile death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The deputy governor and chief doctor at Butyrskaya prison in Moscow are suspected of negligence causing death.

Magnitsky's case has become a cause celebre. Arrested after accusing the police of corruption, he was reportedly beaten and denied treatment in jail.

A report has concluded he suffered deliberate neglect and torture.

The group Physicians for Human Rights, on the request of Magnitsky's family, conducted the first independent medical evaluation of the case.

The report, released on Monday, concluded that he received "inadequate medical treatment", and that his death was the result of "calculated, deliberate and inhumane neglect".

Start Quote

The Russian government are desperately trying to create the appearance that they are doing something here, without going after the real guilty parties”

End Quote William Browder Hermitage Capital Management

It called on the Russian government to accept responsibility under the UN Convention Against Torture.

Different suspects

President Dmitry Medvedev's human rights council produced a report earlier this month which concluded that there was reasonable suspicion that Magnitsky's death was triggered by beatings while in police custody.

The report singled out senior interior ministry investigator Oleg Silchenko and prison chief Ivan Prokopenko as being at fault for neglect over the lawyer's death.

However, these are not the same two officials named by prosecutors on Monday.

They are Larisa Litvinova, chief physician at Butyrskaya prison, and the prison's deputy chief Dmitry Kratov.

Magnitsky's former employer told the Associated Press that more powerful people were still being protected.

"The Russian government are desperately trying to create the appearance that they are doing something here, without going after the real guilty parties," said William Browder, who runs Hermitage Capital Management, for whom Magnitsky was working.

Magnitsky had claimed to have unearthed evidence that implicated the police, officials and bankers in a massive fraud, which used Hermitage as a vehicle.

He was later arrested, himself accused of fraud, and investigated by some of the very same people he had accused of corruption.

He was imprisoned without trial in November 2008, developed pancreatitis in jail but was never properly treated, and died in November 2009, aged 37.

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