International Law

Family Wary of Russia's Decision to Reopen Tax Case of Lawyer Who Died in Custody

Russian officials announced they are reopening a criminal tax evasion case against a lawyer who died in custody two years ago after he accused police officials of corruption.

Prosecutors in Russia say the decision could result in clearing Sergei L. Magnitsky’s name.

But Magnitsky’s family is wary of the news. The New York Times quotes an aunt who says prosecutors never consulted relatives before reopening the case.

The decision to reopen the case comes after global criticism of the matter has mounted. The Times reports that last week, the State Department said it has banned a list of Russian officials who were linked to Magnitsky’s death from visiting the United States.

Last month, an advisory human rights council issued a report revealing that Magnitsky, 37, was chained to a cot and beaten by eight guards immediately before he died in 2009. Russian officials initially claimed he’d died of a heart attack.

Magnitsky was detained in 2008, accused of helping his employer, Hermitage Capital, evade $17.4 million in taxes. The lawyer was prosecuted after he testified against senior Interior Ministry officials, claiming they used Hermitage companies to embezzle monies from the Russian treasury.

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