Medvedev: Criminal acts killed Russian lawyer Magnitsky

Flowers on grave of Sergei Magnitsky
Image caption President Dmitry Medvedev said he wants to find out how and why Sergei Magnitsky died

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said the death in police custody of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was likely the result of criminal actions.

A Russian government rights body reported to Mr Medvedev that police, prison officials and doctors all shared blame for Mr Magnitsky's death.

Mr Magnitsky died in 2009, accused of fraud after himself accusing Russian officials of a huge tax fraud scheme.

No-one has been charged over his death or the tax fraud he alleged.

He was arrested and imprisoned without trial in November 2008 after being accused of colluding with the fraudsters.

Mr Magnitsky died a year later, aged 37, amid reports of terrible abuse in prison and denial of medical help.

His death sparked outrage among rights activists and was condemned by Western governments.

The case has been seen as a gauge of Russia's commitment to the rule of law and stamping out corruption.

Travel ban call

Earlier this year, Mr Medvedev promised a full inquiry into his death.

"A person has died, and it appears that there were crimes that led to that outcome," Mr Medvedev said in remarks posted on the Kremlin website after meeting with the rights body.

"Magnitsky's case is a very sad one," he said. "Ailing people shouldn't die in prison. If they fall ill, they must be taken out for treatment before a court decides their fate."

Mr Magnitsky was a lawyer for a large US investment fund operating in Russia, Hermitage Capital, that Russian officials say evaded paying taxes.

Hermitage head William Browder accuses Russian officials of using his company to operate a $230m (£143m) tax fraud.

Mr Magnitsky claimed to have unearthed evidence that implicated the police, officials and bankers in the fraud.

On Monday the Netherlands approved a resolution demanding a government travel ban on dozens of Russian officials allegedly involved in Mr Magnitsky's death.

The US Congress has been examining a similar ban.

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