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Chief physician at Magnitsky prison to stand trial

Published time: July 10, 2012 04:16
Edited time: October 23, 2012 23:42

Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky (AFP Photo/HO/Hermitage Capital Management)

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A chief medical officer at the prison where Sergey Magnitsky died is to stand trial for causing the lawyer’s death through negligence. State investigators say they have assembled a solid case against the physician.

­Dmitry Kratov was responsible for medical care and preventive work at the detention center. The investigation concluded that Kratov neglected his official duties in providing medical assistance to detainees, in particular to lawyer Sergey Magnitsky, which eventually led to Magnitsky’s death in November 2009.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has completed the investigation of the criminal case against Kratov and reports it has collected sufficient evidence to charge him with causing death by negligence. The case has now been sent to court and the charges may result in a prison term of up to five years.

Magnitsky, a lawyer working for the British investment fund Hermitage Capital, was arrested on tax evasion charges in November 2008, soon after he had accused police investigators of a 230-million-dollar tax refund fraud. He died of heart failure after having spent almost a year in the Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial detention center.

Nurse Larisa Litvinova, Kratov's subordinate, was another person to have been accused of involuntary manslaughter. However, the criminal charges against her were dropped because the statute of limitations constituting of two years had expired.

Last month, a US Senate panel unanimously passed the so-called “Magnitsky Act,” or “Sergey Magnitsky rule of law accountability act” – a bill that would penalize Russian officials allegedly implicated in Magnitsky’s jailing and death, as well as other human rights abusers in Russia.

Russia threatened to retaliate, triggering more fears that the adoption of the act would seriously affect relations between Moscow and Washington. The Netherlands also imposed travel bans on some 60 Russian officials over the case and a number of EU parliamentarians have vowed to follow suit.