Russia Plans Posthumous Prosecution

Mr. Magnitsky was a lawyer who was involved in a tax evasion case dealing with his employer Hermitage Capital. It was claimed that Hermitage Capital evaded roughly $17.4 million in taxes in 2008. In connection to the claim Magnitsky was jailed, and in 2009 he died in the pretrial detention. At the time he was only thirty-seven years old. The Russian police are now resubmitting the tax evasion case even though the primary defendant, Magnitsky, died two years ago.

The story underlying this case deals with much more than tax evasion. It had been alleged that prior to the tax evasion case Magnitsky had testified against the Interior Ministry officials claiming that “they had used Hermitage companies to embezzle $230 million from the Russian Treasury by filing false corporate tax returns.” Many believe that the Ministry filed that tax case as retaliation for Magnitsky’s claim and not because there was any truth to it.

The Russian officials involved with this case have been accused of denying Magnitsky medical care during his pretrial detention, and have been rumored to only want to resubmit the case so that they can clear their conscience by knowing that Magnitsky was a guilty man. The officials have come forth to say that they are bringing the case at the request of Magnitsky’s family members and supporters who want to clear his name, but the family members and supporters believe that it is being done “to vindicate the officials that Mr. Magnitsky had accused of corruption.”

Willam F. Browder, Hermitage Capital’s executive director, will be a co-defendant in the resubmitted case, and he will be tried absentia. Browder claims that the only reason the case is being resubmitted it to “intimidate [Magnitsky’s] family and discourage them from pressing for the prosecution of the police and tax officials who they say orchestrated his imprisonment.”

When this case comes to trial it will be the first posthumous prosecution in Russian legal history.

SOURCE: The New York Times

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