Magnitsky case reopening ‘immoral’ – mother

Sergey Magnitsky's relatives (RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)
The mother of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergey Magnitsky, who died at a Moscow pre-trial detention center in 2009, has called the decision to reopen the case against her son “immoral” and said she is “afraid of” investigators.

Natalia Magnitskaya has submitted a statement to Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and the chief of the Interior Ministry’s Investigations Department, Valery Kozhokar.

"The Constitutional Court ruling, passed on July 14, gives relatives the right to initiate a resumption of the investigation, closed after the suspect's death for the purpose of his rehabilitation," it reads, as cited by Interfax agency.

In July, the court ruled that the death of a defendant must not lead to the closure of the investigation, especially when it is opposed by relatives who insist a person should be rehabilitated.

The dead lawyer’s mother stressed that Russia’s highest judicial instance allowed only Magnitsky’s relatives to do so, and not law enforcement agencies. She called the deputy prosecutor general’s decision to re-investigate the case against her son “immoral”.

"The criminal prosecution of my son is being resumed under the pretext of restoration of his right to rehabilitation. At the same time, the re-investigation will be carried out by the same investigators of the same department, with whose participation my son was brought to death," Magnitskaya said.

Magnitskaya stated that she is afraid of those investigators. “It is not only that I don’t trust them, but I also fear them,” she said.

Natalia Magnitskya pointed out that she refused to participate in investigative actions since she was feared for herself as well as for other relatives. The woman asked Chaika and Kozhokar to protect her and her family from the pursuit by the investigators “who were involved in the son’s death.”

On Monday, the Hermitage Capital Management Fund said that Magnitsky’s mother had been summoned for interrogation on September 8 as part of the tax evasion case reopened against the lawyer. The company branded the planned questioning “psychological pressure” on his relatives.

The lawyer’s widow, Natalia Zhirikova, along with his mother, has been invited to the Internal Ministry’s investigation department on Tuesday to become familiar with the decision concerning the re-opening of the case. According Zhirikova’s lawyer, she is also opposed to the decision and was not planning to go to the ministry.

Meanwhile, the press service of the Internal Ministry’s Investigative Department told RIA Novosti that the fate of the case would depend on Magnitsky relatives’ decision: it will either be closed or tried in court.

As for police officers’ alleged involvement in the death of the 37-year-old lawyer, they will be punished if their guilt is proven, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told reporters on Tuesday.

"If something is proven, there are no questions. Myself, I'd burn out everything with a hot iron. But in this particular case, no conclusions have been drawn. We have nothing against them yet," he said as cited by Itar-Tass. So far, no decision on this case has been made, he said.

Magnitsky was arrested by Russian authorities on charges of alleged tax evasion, and died of a heart attack while in a Moscow pre-trial detention facility on November 16, 2009. Hermitage Capital maintained that the real reason for his detention was that he had uncovered a multi-million-dollar corruption scheme involving high-ranking state officials. His family and colleagues also claimed he was abused in prison and deliberately denied medical treatment.

In July of this year, Russian authorities initiated criminal cases against two former prison doctors who were accused of criminal negligence that resulted in the death of Magnitsky.