Heads roll after prison death

Twenty high-ranking officials of the Federal Service for Execution of Sentences have been dismissed following the death of Hermitage Capital Management’s tax adviser Sergey Magnitsky in custody.

According to website GZT.ru, these include both regional directors and officials from the head office.

In Friday’s interview with radio station Ekho Moskvy, the head of the service Aleksandr Reymer said that he sacked the chief of the Moscow department, General Vladimir Davydov. Reymer added that Dadydov will not be getting another appointment.

The chief of the Matrosskaya Tishina prison, where Magnitsky was held, has been dismissed as well.

General Davydov’s deputies – including the one in charge of medical treatment of the detainees – will also be held accountable, according to Reymer.

All these steps follow an inspection organized after the death of the 37-year-old Magnitsky on November 16.

He was arrested approximately a year ago on charges of 500 million rouble (about $17 million) tax evasion. Hermitage Capital Management CEO, William Browder, was charged in absentia, as he is now in the UK. Magnitsky was the only person held in custody in this case.

Human rights activists and Magnitsky’s lawyers say he was diagnosed with necrotizing pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis, but did not get the necessary medical assistance. Prison authorities claimed the inmate died of heart failure.

Although the latest dismissals are linked to the death of Magnitsky, it should be noted that a large-scale reorganization of the Federal Service for Execution of Sentences started earlier, when in August Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sacked its previous chief and appointed Aleksandr Reymer.