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Magnitsky Defendant Pleads Not Guilty

Dmitry Kratov

Dmitry Kratov

The sole defendant in the death-in-custody case of Russian anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky has pleaded not guilty.

The trial, which began on September 13, has been adjourned until October 2.

Dmitry Kratov, former deputy warden at Moscow's Butyrka pretrial detention center, is charged with negligence leading to Magnitsky's death in November 2009.

Authorities say the 37-year-old Magnitsky died of heart failure while awaiting trial on charges of tax evasion in a case that prompted international criticism and calls in the United States for visa bans and asset freezes.

But his colleagues and relatives say he died after being beaten and tortured in custody.

Magnitsky was an attorney for the London-based Hermitage Capital Management.

Tax-fraud charges against Magnitsky were initiated by the same officials he had testified against in court -- accusing them of embezzling $230 million.

Magnitsky's case led to the replacement of the leadership of Russia's Federal Corrections Service.

U.S. lawmakers have introduced the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act to punish rights offenses of the type that appear to have cost Magnitsky his life.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax