Russia Drops Criminal Inquiry Into Magnitsky’s Death

Russia ended its investigation into Hermitage Capital Management tax and legal adviser Sergei Magnitsky’s death in prison, saying it found no sign he had suffered physical abuse while he was detained.

Magnitsky was subject to no “special conditions” while in prison, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on its website today. He died of cardiac failure and there is no evidence of torture or physical violence against him in prison, it said.

Magnitsky, who died in November 2009 at age 37, was in pretrial detention after alleging the biggest-known tax fraud in Russia, a theft of $230 million from the national treasury. The case sparked a diplomatic row, with the U.S. imposing sanctions on Russian officials accused of playing a role in Magnitsky’s death and Moscow retaliating by barring American citizens from adopting Russian orphans.

Russia is “officially defending Sergei Magnitsky’s torturers and killers,” Hermitage Capital said today in an e-mailed statement. Magnitsky and Hermitage head William Browder are accused of evading taxes of 522 million rubles ($17 million), the Prosecutor General’s Office said Nov. 29.

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