New Investigator in the Magnitsky’s Death Case Refuses to Prosecute Senior Prison Officials
March 29, 2012
Russian authorities have appointed a new investigator in the case of the murder in police custody of the 37-year old whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The first decision by the newly appointed investigator, Major A. Strizhov of the Russian Investigative Committee, was to reject the petition from the Magnitsky family to investigate the role of senior prison officials in torturing him.
The decree sent by investigator Strizhov this week to the Magnitsky family says:
“I hereby refuse your petition to examine the actions of the heads of the Moscow Prison Service …There are no grounds to conduct separate checks regarding the heads of the Moscow Prison Service.”
Investigator Strizhov refused to bring criminal charges against senior Moscow prison officials in spite of the documentary evidence that they were involved in carrying out multiple transfers of Magnitsky between detention centers and rejecting Magnitsky’s complaints against his torturous conditions and denial of medical treatment.
On 31 August 2009, after not getting any reply to the dozens of complaints filed with the heads of Butyrka detention centre in Moscow, Sergei Magnitsky addressed his complaint to the head of the Moscow Prison Service Mr Davydov.
On 7 October 2009, General Davydov wrote back stating that “all conditions were fine” (http://russian-untouchables.com/docs/D37.pdf).
During his 11 months in detention, Magnitsky was transferred between four detention centres and 21 cells. According to a Buturka prison official, the cells Sergei Magnitsky was placed in at Butyrka detention centre were “objectively the worst”.
After Magnitsky’s death, the new head of the Moscow Prison Service, Mr Dezhurov, stated that Magnitsky’s complaints “can’t be found.”
The Magnitsky family have filed a request with the Investigative Committee seeking to question the former and current heads of the Moscow Prison Service into their role in Magnitsky’s torture in custody and the reasons for them to conceal Magnitsky’s complaints. The family also asked to allow members of the President’s Human Rights Council to attend the interrogation, as was allowed by the Investigative Committee last year with Butyrka medical officials on family’s request.
However, investigator Strizhov rejected all requests stating:
“I hereby reject your petition to carry out investigative actions to determine the location of Sergei Magnitsky’s complaints… There are no grounds to allow outsiders, including V. Borschev and L. Alexeeva, to attend the questioning of witnesses”.
A Hermitage Capital representative said:
“By rejecting all Magnitsky’s family requests and refusing to investigate the role of the prison service bosses, Investigator Strizhov is clearly covering up for high-ranking officials.”