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Russian Interior Ministry Rejects Reports Of New Magnitsky Case

Pins bearing portraits of Sergei Magnitsky and produced by the Moscow Sakharov Center in 2013 to mark the late lawyer's 41st birthday
MOSCOW -- Russia's Interior Ministry has denied reports saying a new posthumous probe has been launched against whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The ministry's press service said on January 13 that "it is not a practice to open criminal cases against dead people."

Earlier in the day, Hermitage Capital Management, the U.K.-based investment fund that employed Magnitsky, said a new case of embezzlement of 5.4 billion rubles ($162 million) had been launched.

Magnitsky died in a Russian jail in 2009 after uncovering a massive fraud scheme by officials.

He had endured nearly a year of custody that included "willfully cruel treatment" and "torture," according to the chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseyeva.

The case contributed to increased tensions between Moscow and Washington.

In April 2013, Washington imposed visa bans and asset freezes on 18 individuals, mainly Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky's death.

Russia responded with visa bans against 18 U.S. citizens.

In July, a Moscow court found Magnitsky guilty of tax evasion in an unprecedented posthumous trial.

With reporting by RIA Novosti and Interfax