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Jailed Russian Attorney May Have Been Beaten Before His Death

Members of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov (left), Valery Borshchyov (second left) Kirill Kabanov (third left), at a news conference concerning the investigation into Sergei Magnitsky's death.
MOSCOW -- Human rights activists say a whistle-blowing attorney for a financial services company in Russia may have been beaten by prison guards before he died two years ago, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Sergei Magnitsky, 37, was an attorney for Hermitage Capital Management who died in pretrial detention near Moscow in November 2009.

Officials said he died of heart failure, but rights activists say he died after being beaten and because he was denied treatment for a medical condition.

Hermitage Capital presented its report, "The Torture and Killing of Sergey Magnitsky: State Organs Conceal the Truth," to the Russian presidential Human Rights Council on November 28.

Council member Valery Borshchyov told RFE/RL that rights activists have documents, which he said "confirm" that Magnitsky was beaten by jail guards. He also said that the ambulance personnel who arrived at the detention center found that Magnitsky had died one hour before the time shown by prison officials.

Borshchyov added that the ambulance personnel found Magnitsky not in the penitentiary's medical unit but on the floor of his cell with handcuffs lying nearby.

Hermitage Capital's chief executive, William Browder, told RFE/RL last month that the Moscow Public Oversight Commission established to monitor the investigation into Magnitsky's death managed to obtain documents proving Magnitsky was severely beaten by eight guards before he died.

Magnitsky was arrested and charged with tax evasion in November 2008. The charges were initiated by the same officials against whom Magnitsky had testified one month earlier, accusing them of embezzling some $230 million.

After Magnitsky's death, the Moscow Public Oversight Commission and the president's Human Rights Council concluded he had been wrongfully arrested.

Read more in Russian here and here