Lawyer of Magnitsky’s relatives says trial of deceased auditor illegal

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – MOSCOW,. July 3, 2013) The defense team of Hermitage Capital’s auditor Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a detention facility, said that a guilty verdict within the framework of the trial in absentia of Magnitsky was needed to justify his death.

“The trial is needed just for this – to tell the entire world – here, look, the court found Magnitsky guilty,” the lawyer of Magnitsky’s widow, Dmitry Kharitonov, told Interfax.

The trial in absentia of Magnitsky’s case in Moscow’s Tverskoy Court is illegal, Kharitonov said. “This was the initiative of the Prosecutor General’s Office, his relatives did not ask for this and a case can only be reopened at the relatives’ request,” he said.

On Wednesday, in the Tverskoy court, the prosecutor asked that Magnitsky and Hermitage Capital Head William Browder be found guilty of tax evasion. The prosecutor asked that Browder be sentenced to nine years in a general regime penal colony, that the case against Magnitsky be closed due to his death and to decline any request for the rehabilitation of the deceased.

The prosecutor said that the case had been reopened and is being tried in court in absentia because Magnitsky’s relatives insisted on it, having said repeatedly that it was necessary to rehabilitate him. Lawyers said the investigation was reopened illegally and that they had not filed a relevant request with prosecutor’s office. Lawyers of Magnitsky’s relatives did not appear in court, having refused to take part in the proceedings, that is why state defense councils were appointed and the case is being tried with their participation.

Magnitsky, accused of tax evasion, died in a Moscow detention facility on November 16, 2009.