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US disappointed by Russia conviction of dead lawyer

12 july 2013, 18:40
A picture of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky is seen on his grave. ©REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky
A picture of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky is seen on his grave. ©REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky
The United States on Thursday voiced disappointment at a Russian court's posthumous conviction of late Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky for tax evasion, AFP reports.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called for Moscow instead to find and prosecute those behind his death.

"We are disappointed by the unprecedented posthumous criminal conviction against Sergei Magnitsky," Psaki told reporters. "The trial was a discredit to the efforts of those who continue to seek justice in his case."

Magnitsky was convicted by the Moscow court along with his former boss, the US-born British citizen William Browder, the head of the Hermitage Capital investment fund who was sentenced in absentia to nine years in a prison colony.

However the case against Magnitsky ended with the guilty verdict and a refusal to exonerate him, as the Russian authorities cannot take a case against a dead man any further.

Magnitsky had accused Russian interior ministry officials of organizing a $235 million tax scam against Hermitage Capital, but was then charged with the very crimes he claimed to have uncovered.

He was placed under pre-trial detention in 2008 and died of untreated illnesses less than a year later at the age of 37.

"Despite widely publicized, credible evidence of criminal conduct resulting in Magnitsky's death, the authorities have failed to prosecute those responsible," Psaki said.

"We continue to call for full accountability for all those responsible for Magnitsky's wrongful death and will continue to support the efforts of those in Russia who seek to hold those individuals accountable."

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