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Russian lawyer Magnitsky 'tortured, beaten to death' – report

Published time: November 28, 2011 17:45
Edited time: November 28, 2011 22:49

RIA Novosti/Vladimir Pesnya

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The country's presidential human rights council says police torture could have led to the death of a Russian lawyer, who was imprisoned at the time.

This comes after the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund Magnitsky worked for sent the council a 100-page report based on official documents, court materials, and public statements.

"The documents we possess testify to the illegal use of rubber clubs,” said council member and human rights defender Valery Borshchyov, as quoted by Interfax. “It turns out that 8 prison employees were beating one prisoner.”

An ambulance arrived at the prison on the day Magnitsky died, but doctors were denied access for about an hour.

“When they were finally let in, the doctors reported the death time different from that cited by the local employees – it was an hour earlier,” Borshchyov said. “The doctors also found out that Magnitsky was not in the intensive care unit, as claimed the prison’s physician. He was seated on the floor, leaning against a bunk and handcuffs were lying nearby.”

The human rights council presented photographs from the morgue, which showed deep wounds from handcuffs on Magnitsky's wrists.

"Such wounds cannot be caused by the simple wearing of handcuffs,” Borshchyov said. “He must have been trying to break free.”

Prison personnel insist they had to cuff Magnitsky, as he was trying to commit suicide and injure himself.

Members of the council insist prosecutors look into the new evidence.

37-year-old Sergey Magnitsky, who worked for a foreign investment fund, was arrested on tax evasion charges in 2009. The gravely-ill lawyer died in a pre-trial detention facility several months later.

Two forensic evaluations showed that Magnitsky died of acute heart failure. Experts confirmed that Magnitsky was suffering from heart problems, but that it was not at an acute stage.

His family and colleagues claim he was deliberately denied medical help. Two prison doctors have been charged with negligence during the ongoing investigation.

Magnitsky said the criminal case against him was retaliation for his testimony, alleging the involvement of law enforcement officials in the embezzlement of budget funds.

The lawyer’s death prompted the US to blacklist a number of Russian citizens which it links to the case. Russia slammed the move and responded with similar measures against US officials.