Russia Drops Case Against Doctor In Magnitsky Case
Russia’s top investigative body dropped charges against a prison doctor in the death of imprisoned lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
The Investigative Committee said Monday that a two-year statute of limitations ran out on prosecuting former prison doctor Larisa Litvinova on criminal negligence charges. She was in charge of overseeing Magnistky’s health in the weeks before he died in custody in November 2009 while suffering from untreated pancreatitis.
The Wall Street Journal and New York Times each reported the story.
The death of Magnitsky, a lawyer for Hermitage Capital Management who has been lionized around the world as a martyr and a whistleblower while in the hands of Russian authorities has been a source of friction between the U.S. and Russia, even as President Barack Obama sought a “reset” of relations between the two countries since he came into office.
Magnitsky’s family and former colleagues called for an investigation, though only Litvinova and one other prison doctor were charged.
Hermitage, the London-based fund that employed Magnitsky, said in a statement quoted by the Journal that Monday’s announcement “the latest example of reluctance within the Russian government to hold anyone accountable” for his death. It said investigators “refused to acknowledge that Sergei Magnitsky had been tortured…a crime that has a 10-year statute of limitations.”
The U.S. created a secret visa blacklist of those it said were involved in the case, and lawmakers are considering legislation that would freeze their assets as well. The U.K. and other European countries are weighing similar measures. Russia responded with its own list.
Magnitsky was thrown in jail in 2008 after accusing Interior Ministry officials of using false tax documents to steal $230 million from the treasury. He was placed in the custody of the very officials he had accused in the case.
For almost a year, according to his complaints to prosecutors and police chiefs, Magnitsky was subjected to increasingly harsh treatment in order to get him to implicate himself and Heritage’s founder for committing the crimes. After falling gravely ill, he died on Nov. 16, 2009.